You feel a tingling along your leg followed by a sharp, electrical jolt of pain that radiates from the lower back down the back of the leg to the foot. You have just experienced a sciatic leg pain. This painful condition results when pressure is placed against the sciatic nerve that runs from the lower back, through the hip to the leg. Sciatica results when this main nerve becomes inflamed, causing transmission of the pain to the leg. Sciatica is rarely felt only in the leg, so lower back or hip pain often accompanies leg pain. Below is a home treatment for sciatica as well as information about when you should consult your personal physician for medical care.
1. Rest your leg for the first 24 to 48 hours. After this point, you’ll be aggravating the sciatica with inactivity.
2. Apply ice packs to the leg for the first 48 hours for no more than 20 minutes. Ice alleviates some of the sharp pain. Try to elevate the leg while applying the ice. For example, stretch out on the sofa with your sore leg on the top. Extend your leg over the elevated arm of the sofa, making sure to keep the rest of your body on the flat part of the sofa. By lying on your side, you can apply the ice pack to the back of your leg by propping it against you with a pillow.
3. Apply heat to soothe the sore muscles on the back of your leg. According to Spine Health, some people find that heat soothes the pain of sciatica better than ice packs. Others choose to alternate ice and heat multiple times each day. Allow time between applications for the skin to return to normal temperature.
4. Soak in a bath filled with hot water and 2 cups of Epsom salts for at least 15 minutes to help reduce swelling of the leg muscles and relieve pressure on the lower back.
5. Use anti-inflammatory medications, such as Ibuprofen, as necessary on the recommendation of your doctor. Follow dosage recommendations on the bottle.
6. Get up and get moving. Inactivity simply aggravates the injury. Walk or ride a stationary bike to stretch your leg and back muscles.
7. Perform some simple stretches multiple times each day to work the muscle of your back and legs. Lie on your back on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Tighten your stomach muscles and press your back to the floor. Place your hands behind your left knee and pull it toward the chest, making sure that your back and shoulders remain flat on the floor. Hold for 20 seconds and release. Perform three to four stretches for each leg.
8. Remain on your back. Stretch both legs out straight flat on the floor. Lift your left leg and place your hands behind your thigh. Extend the leg as straight as possible and gently pull the leg to 90-degree angle if possible. You feel this hamstring stretch along the back of the thigh. Go slowly and be careful while holding each stretch for a count of 10. Try to do three stretches for each leg.