Sciatic pain is one of the most excruciating and challenging types of pain to treat. Stemming from a variety of conditions, sciatic pain treatments range from at-home techniques to more invasive procedures. Here are 15 techniques that show you how to get rid of sciatica pain. We cover at-home approaches you can try, advanced therapies, as well as interventional treatments for severe pain.
What causes sciatic nerve pain?
Many people refer to sciatica as an individual diagnosis. This is not quite accurate. Sciatica is simply the name for a type of pain that can stem from a variety of different conditions.
The sciatic nerve is the longest and widest nerve in the body. It originates from the lumbar spine, crosses through the buttocks and over the hip, then runs down the leg. It ends just below the knee. The following video goes over this in some detail.
Conditions that lead to sciatica
Because it covers so much territory, the sciatic nerve can be activated by many different conditions, including:
- Herniated disc: This rupture in the intervertebral sac that separates and cushions the vertebrae can cause impingement or compression of the sciatic nerve
- Spinal stenosis: Narrowing of the spinal column caused by age or injury eventually compresses the sciatic nerve
- Degenerative disc disease: Caused by age or other conditions or medications that weaken discs, degenerative disc disease is a very common cause of sciatic nerve pain
- Spondylolisthesis: When a vertebrae slips forward and rubs on the bone beneath it, it can come in contact with the sciatic nerve, applying painful pressure
- Ankylosing spondylitis: An arthritis-related condition that causes inflammation in the spine and eventual fusion of vertebrae
- Osteoporosis and compression fractures: Fractures in the vertebrae caused by bone loss can result in extreme pain
- Injury anywhere along the length of the nerve: Injuries that affect the sciatic nerve can include broken bones, muscles strains, or any significant injury to the lower back, hips, pelvic area, or legs
- Pregnancy: Pregnancy places tremendous stress on the pelvic region, hips, and lower back, which can eventually cause sciatic nerve pain
- Piriformis syndrome: An injury to the piriformis muscle located in the buttocks can cause inflammation that compresses the sciatic nerve
What are common sciatica symptoms?
Sciatic nerve pain has very distinct symptoms, including:
- Radiating pain on one side of the body, down the hip and leg
- Pins and needles sensation
- Hip pain
- Pain when sitting or standing
Let’s look at these in more detail.
Radiating pain on one side of the body
Rather than being confined to a single area, sciatic nerve pain is radiating.
Pain can travel from the source of the pain across the lower back and buttocks and down the hip and leg. It sometimes makes it all the way into the feet. In some cases, the pain gets sharper as it travels. Typically, sciatic nerve pain is present only on one side of the body.
Pins and needles or burning sensation, followed by numbness
Some patients describe sciatic nerve pain as prickly like pins and needles. Some experience it as a low-grade burning sensation.
In the beginning stages, this may be annoying more than painful. As the pain continues, the burning or pins and needles may change to numbness.
In some cases, hip pain can actually be present on both sides of the body.
The body will naturally adjust to accommodate the original painful side. This adjustment can cause a painful imbalance in both hips.
Intense pain when sitting or standing
Sciatic nerve pain often intensifies during long periods of sitting or standing. By changing positions, many patients can find temporary relief. If left untreated, sciatic pain will be harder to relieve with a simple change of position.
Eventually, patients may experience weakness and numbness in the extremities. In the most severe cases, loss of bladder or bowel control when combined with sciatic nerve pain warrant an immediate trip to the emergency room. This could indicate a serious medical condition.