Ways to relieve the symptoms of sciatica at home include applying heat or ice, taking over-the-counter pain relievers, avoiding lifting objects or twisting the back, and reducing activity levels before gradually increasing them, according to MedlinePlus. Exercise can resume after two to three weeks, with an emphasis on exercises that strengthen the core and improve the spine's flexibility.
Cold packs placed on the points of pain often provide relief in the first few days, notes Mayo Clinic. Twenty-minute periods of icing several times a day often work best. After the first few days, switching to heat with hot packs or a heating pad can help relieve pain. Alternating between heat and cold also works for some people. Over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen also ease pain.
Bed rest or a long period of inactivity is not generally helpful in relieving the symptoms of sciatica, explains Mayo Clinic. Taking it easy, especially with strenuous physical activity, can help avoid aggravating the pain, but long-term inactivity may actually make the symptoms worse. Stretching exercises that focus on the lower back may bring relief. The stretches should be smooth and gentle without jerky movements, twisting or bouncing. Holding each stretch for at least 30 seconds can maximize results.
Treatment for sciatica isn't always necessary, states MedlinePlus. Self-care techniques to relieve the symptoms is often adequate. Treating the underlying cause of sciatica can also help resolve the pain.