Natural Therapies for Sciatica

Accupunture needles being placed into a woman's back for sciatica.
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If you are suffering from sciatica, a type of pain that radiates along the sciatic nerve's pathway, finding a sciatica treatment is likely on top of your mind. Sciatica can be quite disruptive to daily activities, causing much discomfort. The good news is that there are natural options you can consider to help get you back to normal.


Sciatica occurs when its namesake bundle of five spinal nerve roots – the longest in your body, which run from your spinal cord to your hip area and down the back of your legs – are damaged or compressed. It typically results from conditions such as a herniated disk, degenerative disc disease, spinal tumors, or spinal stenosis, as well as from accident-related trauma.


Often worsened by prolonged sitting (or by sneezing, coughing, or laughing), sciatica pain can range from a mild ache to a piercing sensation marked by burning and tingling. People with sciatica may also suffer from numbness or muscle weakness along the nerve pathway, or a pins-and-needles feeling in the feet or legs.


In many cases, sciatica can be treated with self-care and requires no medical attention. Although the condition usually resolves itself within a few weeks, physical therapy can promote recovery and lower your risk of future injuries to the sciatic nerve. It's worth being checked out by a doctor to ensure that what you're experiencing is sciatica, particularly if you've never had the pain before.

If your pain lasts longer than four weeks, or if the condition worsens, return to your physician for further treatment.

Natural Treatments for Sciatica

So far, scientific support for the claim that any alternative medicine can treat sciatica is lacking. Hot and cold packs, yoga, and gentle exercise may help to soothe sciatica symptoms. Additionally, a number of alternative therapies may help fight sciatica-related pain:

In a 2009 study of 90 sciatica patients, researchers found an association between this needle-based Chinese therapy helped lessen sciatica symptoms.

2) Chiropractic Care

So far, research on chiropractic care's effectiveness in sciatica treatment has yielded mixed results. However, some studies suggest that chiropractic adjustments may help improve spinal function and, in turn, reduce sciatica pain.

3) Massage Therapy

Thought to increase the range of motion and diminish pain, massage therapy targeting the lower spine, pelvis, thigh, and leg regions may help reduce or eliminate sciatica symptoms, according to a small study published in 2008.

Using Alternative Medicine for Sciatica

Due to the limited research, it's too soon to recommend alternative medicine for sciatica. It's also important to note that self-treating a condition and avoiding or delaying standard care may have serious consequences. If you're considering using alternative medicine, make sure to consult your physician first.

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Article Sources

  • Bell J. "Massage therapy helps to increase range of motion, decrease pain and assist in healing a client with low back pain and sciatica symptoms." Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies 2008 12(3):281-9.
  • Chen MR, Wang P, Cheng G, Guo X, Wei GW, Cheng XH. " The warming acupuncture for treatment of sciatica in 30 cases." Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine 2009 29(1):50-3.
  • Lawrence DJ, Meeker W, Branson R, Bronfort G, Cates JR, Haas M, Haneline M, Micozzi M, Updyke W, Mootz R, Triano JJ, Hawk C. "Chiropractic management of low back pain and low back-related leg complaints: a literature synthesis." Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics 2008 31(9):659-74.