Exercises to treat sciatica

Targeted exercises, along with correct stretching techniques, can be a great way to treat sciatica pain nonsurgically.

While periods of rest can be helpful, an overly sedentary lifestyle can potentially worsen sciatica and other spine conditions. Bed rest can stiffen the back and potentially worsen compression of the sciatic nerve. In contrast, low-impact exercises can strengthen the weakened back, increase flexibility and mobility and help reduce inflammation of the sciatic nerve.

You should always consult a doctor before trying any exercises to treat sciatica, as certain exercises can make the condition worse.

Sciatica defined

The term sciatica refers to the series of pain and symptoms that develop from the compression of the sciatic nerve, often by a herniated or bulging disc.

This condition can extend from the back and into the legs and feet, and can be the source of a variety of pain-related symptoms, such as:

  • Muscle weakness
  • Radiating pain, often described as burning or electrical
  • Numbness or pins-and-needles sensations in the feet or toes

Sciatica exercises

These painful symptoms are often first treated with a series of conservative treatments. For many patients, treatment can begin with at-home exercises and stretches to help strengthen the spine and reduce pressure on the sciatic nerve.

  • Exercises to treat sciatica. Low-impact exercises can be performed to target the lower back and comfortably strengthen the problem area. You want to be careful not to overexert yourself or further strain your back, but exercises are extremely important. One great alternative to going to the gym is exercising in the pool and doing other light cardio workouts. Consult your doctor or a physical therapist to develop a specific plan that works for you.
  • Stretching to treat sciatica. Proper stretching and exercises like yoga are an excellent way to reduce pain from sciatica, in addition to helping prevent future symptoms. Stretching increases the mobility of the spine, strengthens the back and helps improve overall health. Practitioners target the source of the back tension and can help develop a plan for reducing the stress over the course of several weeks.

To learn more about exercises to treat sciatica, visit your doctor or a licensed physical therapist.

When to consider sciatica surgery

In very many cases, exercise combined with other conservative treatment can relieve sciatica pain. Should your pain continue after several months of conservative treatment, surgery may become an option. The minimally invasive spine surgery at Laser Spine Institute has been used to help more than 75,000 patients find relief from chronic neck and back pain. Patients choose our minimally invasive procedures over traditional open neck and back surgery because we offer a shorter recovery time and lower risk of complication.^

Depending on the severity of your condition, we may recommend a minimally invasive decompression surgery or minimally invasive stabilization surgery. Our minimally invasive decompression surgery, the most common type of procedure, removes a small portion of spinal anatomy, such as herniated disc material, that is pressing against the sciatic nerve. A minimally invasive stabilization surgery removes the damaged section of the spine and inserts material to provide stability. To learn more about taking the next step on your journey toward relief from sciatica pain, contact the dedicated team at Laser Spine Institute today.

We’ll be happy to provide a free MRI review* to determine if you are a candidate for our minimally invasive spine surgery.