If you are looking for the best natural treatment for sciatica, welcome. Are you or someone you know seeking non-invasive, drug-free ways to find some much needed back pain relief? I encourage you to keep reading, and I will walk you through some effective treatment options.
Do you have shooting pain that radiates down one leg? Maybe you experience tingling or numbness that runs from your lower back down your leg, even into your toes. If so, you may be dealing with sciatica. I have a long history of sciatic nerve pain, and I can tell you it’s no fun.
In this post, I want to talk about some treatment options that have worked for me over the years. Unfortunately, back pain, and sciatica specifically, does not have a one size fits all “fix.” What works for some people may not work for someone else.
I have tried a wide variety of treatment options over the years, so, unfortunately, I have some experience in this area. Before we get too far, I want to touch on a few points first to help.
What is sciatica?
Sciatica is pain that travels along the sciatic nerve. You can check out my post here for more detailed information. In a nutshell, the sciatic nerve is a large nerve that starts in your lower back and goes down the back of each leg. Typically sciatica affects one side of the body, for me, it’s my right leg.
When the sciatic nerve is compressed, for instance, due to a herniated disc, pain can travel through your butt, hip, and legs. I have had sciatica that went all the way down through my calf, into my toes, and that is not a fun experience.
It is also important to note that sciatica is not a diagnosis, but a symptom of a significant issue which I will talk about next.
What causes sciatica?
Several conditions can cause sciatica, including:
- A herniated disc will protrude from its space and press the sciatic nerve 
- Piriformis syndrome is when the piriformis muscle is tight, or spasms, which can irritate and compress the sciatic nerve. The piriformis muscle is located deep in your butt, and the sciatic nerve runs right beneath the piriformis muscle.
- Spinal stenosis, when the spinal canal narrows and puts pressure on the nerves.
When the sciatic nerve is compressed, this is what causes pain along the path of the nerve. The pain can be widespread like it is for me, or more localized as some people only feel it in their butt.
Before we get too far, the first thing you should do if you think you are dealing with sciatica and before you start any treatment is please consult with your doctor.
So, with that said, let’s get into the best natural treatment for sciatica.
How does inversion therapy help? Inverting also allows your hips, legs, and back a chance to stretch and relax, so your spine can decompress and lengthen. Spinal decompression can help a herniated disc heal on its own, naturally, and this decreases pressure on the nerves.
I have been using an inversion table for sciatica for several years now, and it really helps me. Inversion therapy is basically using gravity in your favor. By lying down on a table and rotating backward, you allow the discs in your spine a chance to relax, rehydrate and recover (yes, I just came up with that right now!).
For me, inversion has been a process of recovery and then maintenance. I used the inversion table for decompression to help me get through my back injury in 2015. I continue to use my inversion table regularly to maintain the benefits. You can check out my post here for more information about using an inversion table for sciatica.
The book is still out on whether or not inversion works, but one study shows that 77% of subjects who were candidates for spine surgery no longer needed surgery after inversion therapy.
Something I have not done a lot of in my life until recently is foam rolling. Well, maybe I should clarify; I have not used a foam roller specifically for sciatica until recently. I have messed around with a roller for other parts of my body, and now I understand the value of using a foam roller for sciatica.
I mentioned the piriformis muscle earlier, that muscle buried deep in your butt that can wreak havoc on the sciatic nerve. If the piriformis muscle is aggravated or inflamed, this can cause sciatica like feeling.
How does foam rolling help? Foam rolling is a type of self-myofascial release and can help to relieve tight muscles and knots. What this does is it helps to relax the muscles and increase blood flow to the area, which helps to promote healing.
In short, foam rolling can help to break up knots and give your muscles a much-needed massage to help them relax. Rolling also helps to bring blood flow to the area, which promotes healing. If you would like to learn more about foam rolling as a way to help sciatica check out my post here.
Exercise serves a couple of different purposes; it can help to reduce pain and help to prevent pain in the future. Sometimes when I have a sciatica flare-up, the best thing to do is some light exercise, whether that is walking, or doing lunges at the gym. Both of these are low impact options that are good for the low back.
Core muscle strength has been an essential factor in my recovery over the years. Strengthing my abs and back helps to provide support for my back. I definitely notice when I don’t work out for a while, that my muscles become tight and inflexible, and this tends to cause my sciatica to flare up.
By stretching and strengthing my core muscles, I feel better more often and recover quicker when I do have a sciatica flare-up. It has taken me a long time to figure this out, and what exercises I should or should not be doing.
Exercise, specifically core strengthening exercise, can serve as a way to alleviate pain in the short term and help you build a stronger body for the future. I have noticed less back pain since I have taken core strength more seriously.
If you are unsure how to get started, you may want to consider working with a personal trainer (after you get the okay from your doctor). Personal trainers can help tailor a program to fit your specific needs, and many can help with injury recovery.
Ice and heat
Which came first, the chicken or the egg? That’s kind of the same thing with heat and ice. Typically, ice should be the first option when pain is sharp or intense. Ice helps to reduce inflammation and can also numb the area, which can help to relieve sciatic nerve pain.
Ice is usually prescribed for the first few days, 48-72 hours and can be applied longer depending on how bad the pain is and how long it lingers. I have had to ice my lower back for a couple of weeks because that was the only thing that felt good to me.
Heat usually follows ice, and after the intense pain goes away, heat can help in the healing process. The heat helps to open up the blood vessels to increase flow to the area, helping with the healing process.
In some cases, I have known people who alternate between ice and heat. Again, this will depend on the person and the severity of the pain. Remember the chicken and egg? That is where this comes into play. As a rule of thumb though, you apply ice for the first few days, then move on to heat.
I recently wrote an article about acupuncture for sciatica, you can check it out here. This is something new to me; I had never tried acupuncture before. To be honest, I was pretty nervous honest, with the needles and all. But to my surprise, it was not nearly as scary as I thought.
I was honestly amazed by the whole process, just a little poke and that’s all I felt. I didn’t really know what to expect other than I knew I would get poked with needles.
Another thing I found very interesting was how much my muscles spasmed. As soon as the needles went in, my glutes started to go crazy. I knew my muscles were tight, but I had no idea they would react like that.
The chiropractor who performed the acupuncture explained that my gluteus medius was especially tight. My body was trying to protect and prevent further injury since I have been dealing with back problems for about 20 years.
It took a few sessions, but I really felt better. My muscles have loosened up, and I have been using a foam roller and at times a lacrosse ball to keep my glutes from getting so tight again.
You can see my article here for more information, but my experience with a chiropractor has been very positive. When I was in severe pain from a blown disc and a sprained SI joint, I enlisted a highly recommended chiropractor to help.
A good chiro will assess your condition and come up with a game plan to treat your sciatica. The treatment may involve ice, as discussed before, traction, or massage, to name a few. All of these were part of my treatment from my injury in 2015.
Chiropractors are best known for manipulation, but they don’t always just crack your back. But, if that is part of the treatment plan, the goal is to free up the nerve that is causing your pain. Adjustment should not hurt; the goal is to get your spine correctly aligned.
I have had good luck with my chiropractor, and I hope you do as well.
Massage is one alternative treatment that I really had not thought of before doing some research. You can see my post about massage for sciatica here.
I was actually very surprised by some of the case studies and how effective massage can be for sciatica. It makes sense, though when you think about it. As I mentioned before, loosening tight muscles that put stress on your nerves, help to relieve irritation and pain.
Massage also helps to increase blood flow to the affected area, which helps with healing and recovery. Endorphins are the body’s natural pain killer, and massage can help to release endorphins as well. All in all, massage is definitely a natural treatment for sciatica that is worth a shot.
Conclusion: Best natural treatment for sciatica
Well, we certainly covered a lot of ground in this article, and I hope to have helped you learn something about treating sciatic nerve pain.
The thing I have come to realize with back problems, there is no silver bullet or one size fits all fix. If you find something that works for you, that is great. What works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for someone else.
I have tried many of these treatments, and I can tell you it took me working with doctors, chiropractors, and just doing my own research to figure out what to try next. There are, of course, other methods of treating sciatica, and that is where you come in.
What types of treatments have you tried for sciatica?
Do you have a go-to method that works for you?
If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below, and I will get back to you as soon as I can. Feel free to contact me directly as well.
Thanks for stopping by, I appreciate it.