Conservative sciatica treatment methods

By Michael Perry, M.D.

For most individuals with sciatica, treatment begins conservatively, or nonsurgically. The goal of a course of conservative sciatica treatment is to relieve discomfort and regain lost mobility from this condition. Sciatica is a term used to describe symptoms arising when the sciatic nerve, which begins in the lower back and runs down the length of both legs, is compressed by a spine condition such as a herniated disc or an arthritic bone spur. These symptoms include radiating pain, numbness, tingling and weakness in one or both legs.

Many patients diagnosed with a spine condition causing sciatica are able to find relief through nonsurgical treatment methods. If sciatica pain is affecting your life and taking you away from the people and activities you love, learning about treatment options can help you work with your doctor to get back to the life you’ve been missing.

Types of conservative sciatica treatments

Some of the most commonly prescribed conservative sciatica treatment methods include:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) — helps decrease mild to moderate nerve pain and reduce inflammation near the compressed nerve
  • Opioid pain medication — helps reduce moderate to severe pain
  • Physical therapy —strengthens core muscles, improves flexibility and educates patients about proper body mechanics
  • Cold therapy — helps in reducing inflammation and numbing pain
  • Heat therapy — can promote nutrient- and oxygen-rich blood flow around the site of sciatic nerve compression and relieve muscle tension
  • Anti-anxiety or antidepressant medications — may help to relieve nerve pain
  • Epidural steroid injections — can help relieve lower back pain and reduce inflammation around the sciatic nerve root

When to consider surgical options

Several weeks or months of conservative sciatica treatment often help relieve the symptoms associated with the condition. If pain continues or worsens, a physician may suggest surgery. If you are thinking about undergoing surgical sciatica treatment, consider the minimally invasive spine surgery offered at Laser Spine Institute.

Our procedures are an alternative to traditional open back surgery, offering our patients an outpatient experience and a shorter recovery time.^ To learn if you’re a candidate for our minimally invasive spine procedures, contact Laser Spine Institute for a no-cost review of your MRI or CT scan.*

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