What Can I do to Alleviate Sciatic Nerve Pain?

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Over 40% of people will experience sciatic nerve pain during their lifetime, and depending on the severity of the condition, the pain can be debilitating and prevent people from completing simple daily tasks.

The sciatic nerve is the widest and longest nerve in the body, running from the lumbar spine, through the buttocks, down the leg and ending at the knee. Sciatic nerve pain, also known as sciatica, occurs when the sciatic nerve becomes damaged, inflamed, or compressed.

Causes of Sciatic Nerve Pain

Sciatic nerve pain is typically not a condition itself but rather a symptom of a different underlying condition. These conditions can include herniated discs in the lumbar spine, spinal stenosis, and degenerative disc disease which all cause compression of the sciatic nerve. However, some patients experience sciatic nerve pain following trauma to the lower back, pelvis, knee, or from an infection or tumor.

Some known risk factors for developing sciatic nerve pain include a sedentary lifestyle that involves prolonged periods of sitting, being between 30 and 40 years of age, and working in a profession that requires heavy lifting. Pregnant women are also highly likely to develop sciatic nerve pain due to stretching ligaments.

Symptoms of Sciatic Nerve Pain

People suffering from sciatic nerve pain typically feel a range of symptoms including numbness or tingling in the buttocks and legs, or sharp, searing pain which comes on suddenly and shoots from the lower back through the buttocks and down the legs.

Symptoms can be exacerbated by prolonged sitting, and in some cases, strong sneezing or coughing can cause a painful flare-up.

The level of discomfort from sciatic nerve pain varies from patient to patient and the extent of the damage to the nerve, ranging from a mild, dull ache to pain that feels like an electric shock. No matter how painful your sciatica, the earlier you seek treatment, the more effective it will be at alleviating sciatic pain.

Treatment of Sciatic Nerve Pain

Spinal Adjustment

Spinal adjustments, either manual or mechanical, can assist in restoring vertebrae to their proper alignment, reduce muscle spasms, and minimize irritation that may be causing inflammation to the nerve. Your chiropractor may use a flexion-distraction table to position the spine in a way that facilitates proper spinal movement.

Cold Therapy

Cold therapy can help to reduce inflammation around the sciatic nerve. A cold pack will be applied to the area for a predetermined period to limit blood flow to the area. This therapy is often used in conjunction with other forms of therapy to enhance their effectiveness.


One treatment that has been proven effective at relieving sciatic nerve pain is deep tissue massage. Deep tissue massages involve long firm strokes against the grain of the muscle to access deeper layers of muscle and release tension.

Deep tissue massages to the piriformis muscle that runs from the lumbar spine through the buttocks and attaches to the thigh bone can help to release tension and pressure on the sciatic nerve to provide relief.

Spinal Decompression

If the sciatic nerve pain is caused by herniated discs, spinal decompression paired with either with a traction table or Kennedy Neural Flex table can offer some relief. By decompressing the spine and allowing the chiropractor to ease the disc back into place, the pressure is effectively reduced on the affected nerve.


In most cases, your chiropractor will recommend that you perform a series of stretches at home to complement your therapy and provide pain relief. Most stretches involve gently lengthening the piriformis muscle and should be performed consistently to achieve the greatest benefits.

Final Thoughts

You don’t need to live with the pain of sciatica, seek treatment as early as possible, and try any of these simple and natural ways to alleviate your sciatic nerve pain.