Sciatica surgery can sometimes be avoided with conservative home care

Sciatica surgery is usually recommended only as a last resort — after all other available treatment options are attempted without success. While sciatica surgery can be very effective for certain patients whose back, hip or leg pain do not respond to conservative treatment, it does carry risk of complication. As a patient, it is important to learn as much as you can about the various ways — both surgical and nonsurgical — to address sciatica.

Unless a doctor diagnoses a serious underlying condition that requires immediate sciatica surgery, he or she will usually recommend a conservative plan for treating the pain and limited mobility being experienced. The goal of this type of treatment is to reduce pain and swelling and ultimately improve function. For many patients, this approach can be very effective and surgery to treat the underlying cause of sciatica is not required.

Tips for dealing with sciatica at home

Your doctor will likely tell you about methods you can do at home to help improve your chance of achieving success through nonsurgical sciatica treatment. For example:

  • After a brief period of rest, resume regular activities as soon as possible, without straining or stretching.
  • Avoid high-impact exercise and intensive physical activities, especially lifting, bending and twisting.
  • Engage in recommended low-impact exercise to strengthen supporting muscles and improve blood flow to the spine.
  • Try over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce swelling around the affected areas.
  • Alternate the application of hot and cold packs to the painful area.
  • Get plenty of sleep, which can facilitate recovery. If you feel restless during the night, try lying curled up in a fetal position with a pillow placed between your knees.

Your overall level of health and wellness, which is influenced by factors like your physical fitness, diet, weight, stress and mental health — can have a substantial effect on your sciatica. Lifestyle changes can be helpful in reducing and potentially preventing back pain. However, for some patients, debilitating pain continues after weeks or months of conservative options have been attempted. At this point, your doctor may ask you to seriously consider sciatica surgery.

Laser Spine Institute

If you have concerns about the large incision, overnight hospitalization and long recovery time that can come with a traditional open spine procedure, Laser Spine Institute offers an alternative. Our surgeons use a muscle-sparing less than 1-inch incision to access the spine, which results in a shorter recovery time^ with less risk of complications like infection.

Contact our dedicated team of Spine Care Consultants today for a no-cost review of your MRI or CT scan* to determine if you may be a candidate for one of our minimally invasive, outpatient procedures.

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