A Hot Bath For Sciatica: How-To Guide

Home » A Hot Bath For Sciatica: How-To Guide

If you are suffering from sciatica, you are probably no stranger to the persistent pain and lack of mobility. We are often asked: “Is taking a hot bath a good idea?

While heat therapy (including baths) is a good idea for chronic muscle tightness and relief for your old injuries (more on this later), your Sciatica might need to be approached differently.

Is a hot bath good for sciatica?

You should take a hot bath with Sciatica if your symptoms are:

  • Pre-existing: You’ve had sciatica before, and the same pain is back again.
  • Non-severe: You can generally move about okay, and you’re not in extreme pain.

The heat from the water will relax muscles, which has a chance of lessening nerve compression in your spine, hip and leg.

However, severe sciatic pain may not benefit from a hot bath because your symptoms indicate that a lot of inflammation is happening around your lower spine and/or sciatic nerve at the back of your hip.

This inflammation carries it’s own heat.

nerve lumbar spine compression

The Benefits of Heat Therapy for Sciatica Pain Relief

Heat therapy is any physical heat source applied to an injury directly, or heating other areas, such as infrared sauna. A direct heat source can be a bath, heating pad, or hot water bottle.

Here are three reasons why a hot bath is good for sciatica pain relief:

Increases Blood Flow

Heat therapy is known to increase blood flow to painful areas, which can help to promote healing and reduce inflammation. By increasing blood flow, heat therapy improves delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the affected area for timely healing.

Heat achieves this by dilating (increasing the diameter) of blood vessels.

Relieves Muscle Spasms

Heat therapy can aid in relieving muscle spasms – a common symptom of sciatica. By relaxing the muscles, heat therapy can help to alleviate the pain and discomfort associated with muscle spasms.

Provides Pain Relief

Heat therapy can be a natural home remedy to manage the pain of mild-to-moderate sciatica. By increasing blood flow and relaxing the muscles, you will likely get a sense of relief – at least in the short term.

Additionally, heat therapy can help to reduce the pain level associated with sciatica, which can result in less pain and a better sleep.

Heat therapies should not be used in isolation, they should be combined with other treatment approaches like chiro, physical therapy, and low-impact exercises, for the best results.

What If My Sciatica Is Severe?

If you are suffering from severe sciatica, avoid the hot baths for now. Instead, rest, and avoid sitting with bad posture which further adds nerve tension. Cold therapy, such as a cold pack, might be better in the short term, so seek professional knowledge – see below.

Understanding treatment options:

Related Post:

TENS pad placement for Sciatica

back of upper thigh placement for tens pad

How To Use a Hot Bath For Sciatica

If you’re ready to see if a hot bath can help with your sciatic pain from a herniated disc or lumbar nerve root irritation, here’s what to implement:

  • Only use a bath that is easy to get in and out of.
  • Use magnesium salts such as Epsom salts in the bath, which can further relax tight muscles
  • Don’t go overboard with the temperature – you likely won’t be comfortable and you can irritate the nerves in your skin, adding to back and leg pain!
  • Don’t stay in the bath too long: a good rule of thumb is around 10-15 minutes. This is to avoid being in a flexed posture for too long, which as I mentioned above, is a poor posture position – especially when you have Sciatica.
  • Have the bath at night: After a day of sitting or driving for work, or physical jobs, the warm bath can replenish good blood flow to your lower lumbar spine, piriformis muscle, and legs. It should improve your sleep quality, too.
  • Never fall asleep in the tub.

What is Sciatica?

Sciatica is a common condition that affects the sciatic nerve, which is the longest nerve in the human body. This nerve runs from the lower back through the hips and down each leg.

Sciatica occurs when the sciatic nerve is compressed or irritated, resulting in symptoms such as pain, numbness, tingling, and muscle weakness in the lower back, hips, and legs.

The most common cause of sciatica is a herniated disc in the lumbar spine, compressing the sciatic nerve roots.

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Author Bio

Dr Jason Whealing headshot

Dr. Jason Whealing is a Chiropractor with extensive experience across the UK and Australia. He is passionate about family care and injury management. The cases Jason works with daily include back pain, neck pain, jaw pain, sciatica, knee pain, shoulder pain, headaches and migraine.

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