Individuals who have suffered from sciatica typically find that self-care treatments are very effective. These treatments include hot and cold packs, walking, stretching and using over the counter medications like Ibuprofen. If going this route doesn’t bring you any relief, your doctor will probably recommend a variety of treatments which may include:
Following self-care options, physical therapy is the most recommended treatment. In the event that your sciatica problem is related to a herniated disk, physical therapy may play a crucial part in your treatment. As soon as severe pain conditions begin to improve, your physician or physical therapist will be able to create a rehabilitation program for you to help avoid repeated injuries.
Rehabilitation programs generally include exercise routines that will help correct posture, strengthen back muscles and improve flexibility. The exercises you’ll learn during your rehabilitation program should become a permanent part of your lifestyle.
Acupuncture & Chiropractic Treatments
These services have also been used to treat sciatica in conjunction with taking over the counter medication. Reported success appears to depend on the severity of the problem.
In some cases, your physician may prescribe muscle relaxers or anti-inflammatory medication along with physical therapy. In addition, prescription pain relievers may also be prescribed for short-term pain relief. If you are suffering from chronic pain, anticonvulsant drugs and tricyclic antidepressants may be prescribed. These types of drugs have been known to help block the pain communications that are being transmitted to the brain. They also increase the output of endorphins — the body’s natural painkillers.
When all else fails and sciatic pain isn’t alleviated after a few months, epidural steroid or corticosteroid injections may be suggested. These injections may reduce inflammation surrounding the irritated nerve, thus helping to alleviate pain. However, their benefits are still under debate. Research suggests that corticosteroids present short-term symptom relief, but are not a permanent solution. In addition, the side affects associated with corticosteroids dictates that the number of injections you can receive must be limited. Your physician will work with you to determine a safe course of injection therapy.
Typical surgical treatments include discectomy (removal of herniated disc material) or microdiscectomy (decompression spine surgery). Your doctor will be able to suggest the best treatment when it comes to your particular problem, and help you carefully consider the prospective benefits of surgery. He will educate you regarding the risks and benefits. Surgery is normally recommended in situations where other treatment options have not reduced sciatic nerve pain adequately.
The success rates for sciatica treatment are high. Generally, physical therapy and continued self-care will help you eliminate the pain and suffering that it brings.*
*This article is not intended to diagnose or treat disease.