Exercises to treat sciatica

Targeted exercises, along with correct stretching techniques, can be a great way to treat sciatica pain without surgery.

It may seem counterintuitive that rest can actually make sciatica pain worse, while exercises and staying active may help relieve pain, but it’s true. Bed rest stiffens the back even further, increasing (or at least maintaining) the compression of the sciatic nerve. On the other hand, low-impact exercises can strengthen the weakened back, increase flexibility and mobility, and help reduce the inflammation of the sciatic nerve.

You should always consult a physician 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 — most 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
  • Numbness in the feet or toes

Sciatica exercises

These painful symptoms can sometimes be treated with a series of conservative, nonsurgical 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 physician or a physical therapist to develop a specific regimen 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 a medical professional or licensed physical therapist.

In most cases, exercise combined with other conservative treatment can alleviate sciatica pain. Should your pain continue after several months of conservative treatment, schedule a consultation or ask for a review of your MRI report or CT scan at Laser Spine Institute. Our spine care specialists can help you determine the best course of action after conservative treatment has proved ineffective.

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 continually choose our minimally invasive procedures over traditional open neck and back surgery because our procedures offer a shorter recovery time^ and lower risk of complication.

Depending on the severity of your condition, we can perform 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 the damaged spine that is pressing against the sciatic nerve. A minimally invasive stabilization surgery, however, removes the damaged section of the spine and inserts an artificial disc and/or bone grafts to stabilize the spine.

Take the next step on your journey toward relief from sciatica pain. Contact the spine care team at Laser Spine Institute today for a review of your MRI report or CT scan to find out if you are a candidate for our minimally invasive spine surgery.