Though sciatic nerve pain is often felt within the leg, for most people, the pain is actually due to a problem in the spine. Herniated or ruptured disks often translate into sciatic nerve pain within the leg. The herniation or rupture compresses the root of the sciatic nerve, causing it to inflame and trigger the sensation of pain all the way into your leg. To get relief from this pain, most medical professionals recommend starting with a few self-care techniques.
Relief Through Self-Care
While sciatic nerve leg pain usually dissipates on its own in a month or two, actively seeking out relief can aid in your recovery. Start off by resting your body at the onset of the pain. This can alleviate some of the pressure caused by the herniated or ruptured disk and lessen the irritation of the sciatic nerve. However, you should try to maintain some semblance of your daily activities. A little rest is good, but too much inactivity can actually worsen and even lengthen the duration of the sciatic leg pain. So do what you normally do in a given day, just take moments here and there to rest. Since sciatic leg pain is typically the result of a herniated disk, apply ice to the injured area of the spine several times throughout the day. This can lessen the inflammation of the disk and thereby relieve irritation of the sciatic nerve. Ice the area for no more than 20 minutes at a time; greater durations could aggravate the disk and worsen your condition. However, as the inflammation improves, begin alternating this cold with some heat. By heating the injured area of the spine, you can often further ease sciatic leg pain.
Relief Through Physical Activity
As your sciatic nerve leg pain lessens, incorporate stretching and low-impact exercise into your day-to-day activities. Stretching the back often helps diminish nerve compression, thereby lessening the pain. With low-impact exercise, such as swimming or biking, you can increase your level of fitness while adding some strength and flexibility to your back. When you notice further improvement in your sciatic nerve leg pain, start to add more high-impact exercise to your workout regimen, such as aerobics, running or even a competitive sport. You're hoping to improve your overall fitness to better combat another herniation of a disk. Plus, you want to strengthen your core, and many of these activities focus, at least partially, on this area of your body.
Relief Through Medicine
While most people should expect to see an improvement in sciatic nerve leg pain from these self-care techniques, not everyone responds favourably. Some may need to seek out different forms of treatment. Corticosteroid drugs can lessen inflammation and reduce sciatic leg pain. Alternatively, some patients may benefit from physiotherapy, finding relief through guided exercises and strength training to improve the condition of the spine. It may even take a surgical procedure to "fix" the problem and relieve sciatic nerve leg pain.