How is sciatica treated?

If you’ve been diagnosed with sciatica, or you suspect that you have sciatica, you may wonder how it is treated. There are numerous options available to help people who have sciatica, including conservative treatments, some alternative suggestions and even surgical options that are generally reserved for more serious cases.

Conservative options

After receiving your diagnosis, your doctor will likely recommend that you attempt various nonsurgical treatments. Some of the more common conservative options that are often suggested include:

  • Medication, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Posture improvement
  • Periods of rest
  • Alternating hot and cold therapy
  • Physical therapy
  • Epidural steroid injections

One option may work better than another, depending on the person. Gentle exercise and stretching may also help address sciatica pain, as can training with light weights. When they are done properly, these activities can strengthen back and core muscles and reduce excess strain on the affected areas. Doctors also recommend lifestyle changes, such as weight management and quitting smoking, to improve the overall health of the spine in the long term.

How sciatica is treated may also depend on a patient’s willingness to try alternative treatments that fall outside the bounds of mainstream medicine. Options to consider include alternative treatments like acupuncture, herbal remedies and chiropractic treatment, but you should keep your doctor informed of any treatments you pursue.

When surgery becomes an option

The pain and other problems associated with sciatica can improve over time, with the goal of treatment often being to manage symptoms while the progress of this condition is monitored. In the case that weeks or months of treatment don’t provide relief or the ongoing issues are seriously interfering with your quality of life, it may be time to seek surgery. Sciatica is often a result of nerve compression in the lower back due to a bone spur, herniated disc or vertebral slippage known as spondylolisthesis. In these circumstances, spine surgery may be suggested to remove the pressure placed on the sciatic nerve and relieve symptoms.

If surgery is indicated in your situation, be sure to examine all of your available options by investigating the procedures and surgeons available to you. Laser Spine Institute is the leader in minimally invasive outpatient spine surgery and we’ve helped more than 75,000 patients find relief since 2005. Our procedures are performed using muscle-sparing techniques that allow for a lower risk of complication compared to traditional open spine surgery. Contact our dedicated team to learn more.

We can help you receive a no-cost MRI review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.

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