Pain Management

October 7, 2016

4 Exercises that Can Help Relieve Sciatica Pain


Sciatica can cause mild to severe discomfort that makes it painful to move and perform daily activities. There are several exercises that could help ease your sciatica pain.

Sciatica occurs when the sciatic nerve, which runs from your lower back down the back of each leg, has too much pressure exerted on it. While this pain and tingling in your lower back and legs typically comes and goes, it can become persistent and severe enough to significantly interfere with normal movements and activities. There are exercises, depending on the underlying cause of your pain, which can provide significant sciatica pain relief.

1. Degenerative Disc Disease
Degenerative disc disease can lead to sciatica pain if one of the affected spinal discs touches a nerve root. Exercises that help stabilize your lower back can help relieve this pain by reducing irritation.

  • Lie on your back, put your arms at your sides, and bend your knees.
  • Raise one leg a few inches from the floor while tightening your abdominal muscles.
  • Hold this position for 30 seconds, then lower your leg and raise the other one for 30 seconds.

This exercise should be done in sets of two to three repetitions. While doing these, take 30-second breaks between repetitions.

2. Isthmic Spondylolisthesis
Isthmic spondylolisthesis can cause sciatica pain if it impinges on, or puts pressure on, a nerve root. Exercises that involve flexing and stabilizing the lower back may ease your sciatica pain:

  • Lie on your back while bending your knees.
  • Tighten the muscles in your abdomen to help flatten your back, then stay in this position for 10 to 20 seconds.
  • Slowly relax your muscles, then repeat.

This exercise can be done in sets of ten repetitions, which helps strengthen your abdominal muscles. Muscle strength helps ease the pressure on your lower back when performing movements such as bending down.

3. Herniated Disc
herniated disc can cause sciatica pain if it puts pressure on your sciatic nerve. Doing press-up exercises causes pain to move from the leg into the lower back, where it then subsides as pressure on the nerve decreases.

  • Lie flat on your stomach with your chest propped up by your elbows.
  • Hold this position for five seconds at first and slowly increase this to 30 seconds at a time.
  • Repeat this exercise ten times.

This exercise can be done in sets of ten repetitions roughly every two hours until your pain begins to subside.

4. Spinal Stenosis
Spinal stenosis can cause sciatica pain as the passageway the sciatic nerve travels through becomes narrower and creates friction. Exercises that involve bending forward can help ease your pain and tingling as they help open this passageway.

  • Lower yourself to your hands and knees, then ease back onto your heels with your arms stretched out in front of you.
  • Hold this position for 30 seconds, then go back to the original position.

This exercise should be done in sets of four to six repetitions. While this exercise will not completely reduce sciatica pain, it can provide mild relief that makes it easier for you to stand or walk.

As with any exercise program, always consult your doctor, neurosurgeon, or pain management physician before implementing. Depending on the severity of your condition and your overall health, your doctor may prescribe these or other exercises or stretches for you to try at home. Always follow your medical professionals treatment plan as closely as possible for best results.

If you would like to learn more about sciatica pain relief, contact Arkansas Surgical Hospital at (877) 918-7020 to set up an appointment with our interventional pain management physicians. We can create a treatment plan designed to help you get back to your life.

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