Mayo Clinic recommends treating sciatica at home with cold packs, hot packs, stretching and over-the-counter pain relievers such as naproxen (Aleve) and ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil). Resting for a day or two may be helpful, but prolonged inactivity should be avoided, as this can delay healing and worsen symptoms.
Use cold to relieve sciatica pain by placing an ice pack on the injured area for up to 20 minutes, two or three times per day. After two or three days, Mayo Clinic recommends switching to heat. Apply a hot pack or heating pad to the injured area. If sciatica pain continues, alternating heat packs and cold packs can be helpful.
Gently stretching the lower back at home can help to relieve nerve root compression and lessen sciatica pain, according to Mayo Clinic. All stretches should be held for at least 30 seconds, and bouncing or twisting while stretching should be avoided.
If at-home sciatica treatments are ineffective, a doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxants, narcotics, anti-seizure medications or tricylic antidepressants, states Mayo Clinic. Physical therapy can help to prevent recurrent sciatica injuries by strengthening the muscles supporting the back, increasing flexibility and improving posture. Surgery is reserved for severe cases of sciatica that don't respond to conservative treatments.