For most individuals with sciatica, treatment begins conservatively, or non-surgically. Conservative therapies are widely regarded throughout the mainstream medical community as the least aggressive and most effective starting point for the treatment of most health conditions. When it comes to treating sciatica, a doctor will typically recommend conservative treatment methods to help reduce the radiating pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness in one or both legs that a patient may experience. These symptoms arise when the sciatic nerve, which begins in the lower back and runs down the length of both legs, is compressed by a herniated or bulging disc, a calcified ligament, a slipped vertebra, or some other anatomical abnormality.
Types of Treatments
Some of the most commonly prescribed conservative sciatica treatment methods include:
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) – to help decrease mild to moderate nerve pain and reduce inflammation near the compressed nerve
- Opioid pain medication – to help reduce moderate to severe pain
- Physical therapy – to strengthen core (lower back and abdominal) muscles, improve flexibility, and educate patients about proper body mechanics
- Cold therapy – to reduce inflammation and numb pain
- Heat therapy – to promote nutrient- and oxygen-rich blood flow around the anatomical abnormality and the site of sciatic nerve compression, and to relieve muscle tension
- Anti-anxiety or anti-depressant medications – to help relieve nerve pain
- Epidural steroid injections – to help relieve lower back pain and reduce inflammation around the sciatic nerve root
Is Surgery Necessary?
Several weeks or months of conservative sciatica treatment usually help mitigate the symptoms associated with the condition. If an individual’s pain continues or worsens, a doctor may suggest surgery. If you are thinking about undergoing surgical sciatica treatment, consider the minimally invasive procedures offered at Laser Spine Institute. We are the leader in endoscopic spine surgery and have helped tens of thousands of patients find relief from back and neck pain. Contact Laser Spine Institute to schedule a complimentary review of your MRI or CT scan.