Home Remedies for a Pinched Sciatic Nerve

The sciatic nerve runs from your lower back down the back of each leg. Pain in this nerve is called sciatica, and the Mayo Clinic says it can occur anywhere along the path, from your lower back all the way to your calves. You should see a doctor if your sciatica manifests as sudden or severe pain, if your lower body feels numb or weak, if you have trouble controlling your bodily functions or if the pain is the result of a violent injury. Most of the time, though, it is easy to self-treat sciatica with input from your doctor.

Exercise

One main cause of sciatica is a herniated disc which pinches the nerve. Two of the main causes of herniated discs are being overweight and having poorly developed lower-back muscles, usually from a sedentary lifestyle. If you are suffering from back pain, your instinct may be to avoid exercise to avoid more pain, but a 2009 study performed at the University of Alberta found that the study participants with chronic lower-back who exercised four days a week experienced 28 percent less pain and 36 percent less disability, and the benefits of exercise were greater the more frequently it was performed. Start with static stretching. Flexibility reduces stress put on the spine and will prevent further damage. As pain subsides, the Mayo Clinic advises that you move to low-impact aerobic activities, such as walking, using an elliptical machine or riding an exercise bike. After that, they suggest careful weight training. Consider getting help from a fitness professional or a more experienced friend.

Diet

In “1,000 Cures for 200 Ailments,” naturopathy expert Geovanni Espinosa, N.D., notes that both extra weight and constipation can worsen the pain of sciatica. A diet that promotes both weight loss and regularity, therefore, can help significantly. Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Eat small meals frequently. Eat foods like fish, walnuts and flaxseeds. They are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which reduce inflammation. Drink plenty of water, as sciatica is aggravated by dehydration.

Cold and Hot Packs

The Mayo Clinic advises that you should initially apply cold packs to the areas that hurt to both relieve pain and reduce inflammation. Wrap an icepack or bag of frozen vegetables in a cloth and hold it against the painful areas for 15 to 20 minutes as needed. After two days, switch to warm packs to soothe the muscles and nerves. Do not use too high of a heat. If you are still feeling discomfort, try alternating between warm and cool packs.

Supplements

Espinosa suggests you supplement with 1,000mg of Vitamin C three times a day. He explains that Vitamin C reduces inflammation and helps regenerate connective tissue in the spine. He suggests taking two protease enzymes twice a day between meals to help reduce inflammation and pain. Glucosamine with chondroitin and MSM is a great supplement for any kind of joint pain, including herniated discs that pinch the sciatic nerve, because it helps build connective tissue, and has been found to be almost as good at reducing joint pain as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Along with back pain comes muscle spasms. Taking 250mg of magnesium a day can alleviate this, thus reducing pain.

Herbs

David Kiefer, M.D., the herbalism expert for “1,000 Cures for 200 Ailments,” suggests taking several anti-inflammatory herbs, like turmeric, ginger and green tea. He also suggests white willow bark. White willow bark contains salicin, the precursor to salicylic acid, or aspirin. The benefit of white willow bark is that, as Robert Rister explains in “Healing Without Medication,” white willow bark does not contain salicylates, which are found in aspirin, but rather silicon. While this means it is not quite as potent a pain reliever, it is much kinder to the stomach. White willow bark can be boiled to make a tea, but it is easier to buy an extract standardized to 240mg of salicin. Take this three times a day if you are not taking another non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug.

About this Author

Jeffrey Rice became an ACE-accredited personal trainer in 2007, and began writing about fitness to support his business. Soon, however, he found himself writing more than training, and has since written health, fitness and supplement articles for numerous websites. He holds a M.F.A. in creative writing from Cleveland State University.