Sciatica treatment options explained
The goal of sciatica treatment is to relieve lower body pain and other symptoms that arise when the sciatic nerve becomes compressed. Nonsurgical treatment focuses on relieving symptoms and restoring mobility. Because no two cases of sciatica are alike, each treatment plan is customized to address the individual symptoms experienced by a patient. Symptoms can range from burning pain that courses through the buttocks and thighs, to weakness in a foot that makes walking difficult. This variance in symptoms means that communication between doctor and patient is critical in every stage of treatment.
Conservative sciatica treatment comes first
In most cases, conservative sciatica treatment is the initial recommendation for the pain, tingling, numbness or muscle weakness associated with sciatic nerve compression. Many sciatica patients experience enough relief in treating their symptoms to return to normal activity without requiring treatment. Bulging discs, herniated discs, osteoarthritis and other spine conditions that compress the sciatic nerve are often treated with a combination of the following conservative treatment methods:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
- Low-impact exercise to improve flexibility and cardiovascular health
- Strengthening exercises to improve core strength
- Lifestyle changes to improve posture, manage weight and curtail harmful activities like smoking
- Epidural steroid injections
- Periods of rest
When surgery becomes a sciatica treatment option
If symptoms do not improve after several weeks or months of conservative sciatica treatment, surgery might be suggested as the next step. The type of surgery required will depend on the underlying cause of the sciatica, as well as factors like your overall health and the location of the sciatic nerve compression. Patients concerned about the risks and potential side effects of spine surgery should discuss these at length with their physicians. It also is advisable to receive multiple medical opinions to make sure that all conservative treatment options have been fully explored.
If you have concerns about the risks and difficulties of traditional open spine surgery, reach out to Laser Spine Institute. Our board-certified surgeons+ perform minimally invasive spine surgery that uses a less than 1-inch incision to access the spine. The result of our muscle-sparing techniques is an outpatient procedure with less risk of complications like infection and failed back surgery syndrome when compared to traditional open neck or back surgery.
Contact us today for a no-cost MRI review* that can help determine if you are a candidate for minimally invasive spine surgery.