How to Relieve Sciatic Nerve Pain

Sciatic nerve pain results from a compression of, or an injury to, the sciatic nerve. The pain usually runs from the lower spine to the buttock, then down the back of the leg to the calf [source: Mayo Clinic]. In most cases, the pain goes away by itself within two months. However, there are things you can do to relieve the pain. Sciatic nerve pain isn't a medical condition. Rather, it's a symptom of another condition. Therefore, treating the underlying condition, such as a slipped disk or degenerative disk disease, can provide relief.

Start treating the pain with conservative measures:


  1. Apply an ice pack several times a day, holding it on the painful areas for up to 20 minutes at a time.
  2. Beginning a few days after the pain starts, apply a heat pack or a heating pad on a low setting.
  3. Try alternating cold and hot treatments.
  4. Stretch your lower back. Each stretch should be held for at least 30 seconds.
  5. Use over-the-counter pain medications, such as aspirin, ibuprofen (like Motrin or Advil) or acetaminophen (like Tylenol).
  6. Get regular exercise. Exercise acts as a painkiller.
  7. Sleep in the fetal position and place a pillow between your legs, or sleep on your back with a pillow under your knees [source: MedlinePlus].

If these conservative measures don't relieve your pain, discuss the following options with your doctor:

  1. Working with a physical therapist.
  2. Taking prescription painkillers.
  3. Having your doctor inject corticosteroids into the painful area to treat the inflammation and relieve the pain.