Sciatica is a condition that causes symptoms of pain, burning, and a numbing sensation in the lower back region and posterior thighs. This occurs due to issues with the sciatic nerve, which is located in your lower back and travels through your hips, buttocks, and then into the legs.
Sciatica is not a disease or disorder. Sciatica refers to the symptom of pain, burning, or sometimes numbness involving the sciatic nerve. The most common causes of this condition include pressure on the nerve or a herniated disk.
Pressure on the sciatic nerve can occur due to trauma to the body, injury, or different muscular conditions. The sciatica pain experienced differs in severity based upon each unique case, and while some may experience pain that is consistent, others experience pain that comes and goes throughout the day. The best treatment for sciatica is based upon the cause of the condition and the amount of pain that is present.
Over-The-Counter Anti-Inflammatory Medications
For sciatica pain that isn’t too severe, certain at home treatments can be effective. Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory pain medication is often the treatment option of choice because it takes away inflammation that may be present in the back area, while also reducing pain levels. While spending time at home, changing position often, and applying compresses that are either hot or cold can relieve the pain when it occurs.
Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is an over-the-counter medication that is often used to treat sciatica. This medication should only be used short term, as long-term use can be damaging to the liver.
Prescription Anti-Inflammatory Medications
If over-the-counter medications are not effective in treating your sciatica, your doctor may prescribe prescription strength anti-inflammatory pain medication. Prescription anti-inflammatory agents are similar to those purchased over-the-counter, but much stronger.
Opiate Pain Medication
Your doctor may also prescribe opiates for the sciatica. These agents work by attaching to certain neurons in the brain, which stop pain signals from traveling through the nerves. Opiate pain medication is only used on a short-term basis, as it is highly addictive and has many unwanted side effects.
Your doctor may also prescribe steroid medication alone or to improve the effectiveness of your opiate pain medication. These agents are often only used on a short-term basis to avoid the risk of steroid toxicity and other troublesome side effects.
Alternative Therapy Options
The use of certain alternative medicine techniques can be effective for some people looking to get relief from the pain they experience. Some common forms of alternative medicine that have proven to be effective in some for treating this condition include massage therapy, acupuncture, chiropractic case, and hypnosis.
There are also alternative medication options for the treatment of sciatic, including homeopathic medication, which supports the theory of curing same with same. Also, herbal remedies can prove beneficial for those who prefer the natural treatment approach. All alternative medications should be discussed with your practitioner prior to taking them, as some can interact with prescription medications.
The use of physical therapy may be effective in treating the pain that occurs with sciatica, and it also helps the area where the damage is present to heal. While working with a professional physical therapist, you learn different techniques and exercise routines used to stretch the area, build the muscle in it, and provide pain relief.
The use of steroid injections may be provided to those with higher pain levels related to sciatica. The injection is made in the area where the nerve lies, and can be effective for pain relief for weeks or months, which is dependent upon each case. There are several different types of epidural steroid injections, and they have been shown to be effective 75% of the time.
An additional type of injection that can provide benefit is trigger point injections. They may work very well for spasms that result from sciatica.
While surgery is often the last method of treatment used for sciatica, it can be used for pain that is persistent, as well as pain that doesn’t subside with other available treatment methods. The surgery is done to relieve the pressure on the nerve, which will provide pain relief. Some people experience complete pain relief after the surgery, while others still experience some sciatica pain, but most often to a much lower degree.
Inclusive Clinics offers comprehensive pain management in Houston. The Board Certified doctors offer both medical and interventional pain treatments for all types of pain conditions including sciatica, back and neck pain, failed back surgery, headaches and more.