Sciatica (lumbar radiculopathy) treatment available online today

In order to treat your sciatica (lumbar radiculopathy), consult with one of our board-certified doctors online today to prescribe medications to help your back pain. Get a new prescription to treat sciatica or refill an existing prescription today.*

Book an appointment

Quick Relief for Sciatica Discomfort

Prevent Sciatica with simple lifestyle changes

Virtual appointments for Sciatica treatment

*Prescriptions are provided at the doctor's discretion. Learn more about our controlled substances policy and how to save up to 80% with our prescription discount card. PlushCare doctors cannot treat all cases of sciatica. Our primary care physicians can conduct an initial evaluation of your symptoms but may need to refer you to a specialist or for in-person treatment. If you are experiencing life-threatening symptoms, seek emergency medical attention immediately.

Learn about sciatica (lumbar radiculopathy)

Sciatica, also known as lumbar radiculopathy, refers to sciatic nerve pain. Sciatic pain radiates along the spinal cord, which extends from the lower back through the hips, buttocks, and down each leg.

Approximately 40 percent of people in the U.S. experience sciatic pain at some point during their life. According to Cleveland Clinic, back pain is the third most common reason people seek medical attention.

Sciatica causes

A common cause of sciatica is when a herniated disk or a bone spur (overgrowth of bone) compresses the sciatic nerve. In rare cases, a tumor or disease, such as diabetes, can damage the sciatic nerve. Multiple risk factors can also increase your risk of sciatica, including:

  • Age

    Changes in the spinal column, such as bone spurs and herniated disks, can lead to sciatic nerve issues.

  • Obesity

    Excess body weight increases stress on the spinal cord, which can lead to a pinched nerve.

  • Occupation

    Jobs that require driving for long periods, lifting objects, or twisting your body can hurt your sciatic nerve.

  • Sedentary lifestyles

    People who sit for prolonged periods are more likely to experience sciatica.

Sciatica symptoms

Although everyone will experience sciatica differently, some common symptoms include:

    • Mild or severe pain along the sciatic nerve

    • Numbness in the affected leg

    • Weakness in the leg or foot

    • Pins-and-needles sensations in the lower leg, foot, and toes

    • Pain that worsens with movement

    • Loss of bowel and bladder control

How to treat sciatica

Sciatica treatment provides pain relief and boosts mobility. In some cases, the pain will go away with self-care treatments. Meanwhile, other people may need to see a healthcare professional to relieve sciatica. Some effective self-care treatments for sciatica include:

  • Applying hot and cold packs. Apply a cold pack for 20 minutes several times a day, and switch to a hot pack after the first few days. If you're still in pain, alternate between heating pads and cold packs to soothe your compressed nerve.

  • Take over-the-counter medication. Take medications to relieve pain and calm your irritated nerve. The most common over-the-counter medications for sciatica treatment, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), include ibuprofen, aspirin, and naproxen.

  • Take bed rest and perform gentle stretches. Take it easy and treat your body to some self-care with gentle stretches. Learn proper stretches from wellness professionals to help with lower back pain.

When self-care measures don't relieve sciatica nerve pain, your healthcare professional may recommend the following treatments:

  • Physical therapy. A physical therapist can help you develop a stretching and exercise routine to reduce pain. Physical therapy can also help you maintain proper posture and take pressure off of the sciatic nerve.

  • Prescription medication. Depending on the severity of your pain, your healthcare professional may prescribe medications to treat your symptoms.

  • Alternative therapies. Your healthcare provider may recommend alternative therapies, such as biofeedback, massage therapy, or acupuncture, to relieve sciatica pain.

  • Surgery. Only a small percentage of people with sciatica pain require surgery. If sciatica persists for a few weeks despite professional treatment, your doctor may refer you to a spine specialist to take detailed images, perform a physical exam, and determine the best treatment.

Sciatica medication

In addition to over-the-counter medications, prescription medications can help reduce sciatic nerve pain and soothe inflammation. Some prescription medications for sciatica pain include:

How to prevent sciatica

Although it's not always possible to prevent sciatica, simple lifestyle changes can help to lower your risk. Here are some self-care measures to protect your spinal nerve.

  • Make physical activity part of your routine. Your lower back muscles play a key role in posture. If you're experiencing sciatic pain, ask your healthcare provider about specific exercises for pain relief.

  • Practice proper posture. Choose chairs with lower back support. If you need some extra support, place a pillow in the small of your back.

  • Lift with your knees. Avoid lifting with your upper body if you're lifting objects. Instead, keep your back straight and bend at the knees.

When to see a doctor for sciatica

If a six-week trial of self-care treatments fails to provide pain relief, it's time to see a doctor for sciatica pain.

You should seek immediate medical attention if:

  • You experience unbearable pain that lasts more than a few hours

  • You lose feeling in the same leg

  • You lose bowel or bladder control

  • You experience sudden pain after experiencing trauma

Related conditions to sciatica

The term 'sciatica' is often misused, and people often attempt to self-diagnose and self-treat the wrong cause of their pain. Some related medical conditions that can cause lower back pain include:

    • Spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal)

    • Sacroiliac joint dysfunction

    • Piriformis syndrome

    • Spinal cord tumors

    • Spinal infections

    • Cauda equina syndrome (compression of the spinal nerve roots)

Sciatica treatment FAQs

  • What is the best treatment for sciatica?

    The best treatment for sciatica will vary depending on the severity of pain and the cause of pain. Your doctor will perform imaging tests and take a complete medical history to diagnose sciatica and determine the best treatment for you.

  • What is the best medication for sciatica?

    Over-the-counter medications are often the best treatment option for acute sciatica. If you're experiencing chronic sciatica, your doctor may prescribe prescription pain medication to soothe your sciatic nerve.

  • What is the fastest way to heal sciatica?

    Alternating between heating pads and cold packs can provide immediate pain relief. Ice packs help reduce pain and inflammation, while heat boosts blood flow to the sciatic nerve.

  • Does sciatica go away on its own?

    Acute sciatica often goes away with self-care treatments and does not require medical attention. Meanwhile, chronic sciatica often requires professional sciatica treatment and does not subside with self-care.

    Without treatment, some cases of sciatica may lead to permanent nerve damage.

  • What causes sciatica to flare up?

    The symptoms of sciatica may become worse if you sit or stand for long periods, lift heavy objects, or twist your body. Sudden movements, such as sneezing or coughing, can also worsen sciatica pain, according to Cleveland Clinic.

  • How long does sciatica last?

    While acute sciatica can last anywhere from four to eight weeks, chronic sciatica involves persistent sciatica pain that lasts for more than eight weeks.

3 simple steps to request sciatica treatment today

Step 1

Book a sciatica treatment appointment.

Book a same day appointment from anywhere.

Step 2

Talk to your medical provider regarding your sciatica symptoms.

Visit with a doctor on your smartphone or computer.

Step 3

Pick up a prescription to treat sciatica.

We can send prescriptions to any local pharmacy.

Sciatica treatment pricing details

How pricing works

To request sciatica treatment and get a new prescription or refill on your prescription, join our monthly membership and get discounted visits

Paying with insurance

Membership

$16.99/month

First month free

Visits

Copay

30 days of free membership

  • Same-day appointments 7 days a week

  • Unlimited messages with your Care Team

  • Prescription discount card to save up to 80%

  • Exclusive discounts on lab tests

  • Free memberships for your family

  • Cancel anytime

Visit price with insurance

Often the same as an office visit. Most patients with in-network insurance pay $30 or less!

  • We accept these insurance plans and many more:

    • Humana
    • Aetna
    • Cigna

Paying without insurance

Membership

$16.99/month

First month free

Visits

$129

30 days of free membership

  • Same-day appointments 7 days a week

  • Unlimited messages with your Care Team

  • Prescription discount card to save up to 80%

  • Exclusive discounts on lab tests

  • Free memberships for your family

  • Cancel anytime

Visit price without insurance

Initial visits are $129.

Book an appointment

If we're unable to treat you, we'll provide a full refund.

Sciatica treatment resources

Sources:

PlushCare is dedicated to providing you with accurate and trustworthy health information.

PlushCare content is reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, nutritionists, and other healthcare professionals. Learn more about our editorial standards and meet the medical team. The PlushCare site or any linked materials are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment.