Sciatica is a pain in the leg that often affects one’s motions and activities. It is caused by the irritation in the sciatic nerve that arrives from each side of the lower spine and then goes through the pelvis and bumps. Next, the pain courses along the back portion of each leg and finally divides at the knee until it offshoots till the feet. Radiculopathy, which is a disease of the root of a nerve, is even worse than the back one as per doctors. It is usually caused by pressure on the nerve; the herniated disc forms a breakage and swells into spinal cord pinching the said nerve. The sensation of the pain is truly reflected by the word intolerable. It can result in numbness and a tingling sensation, apart from something like a burning sensation. Continuous sitting or standing, training, and weightlifting can be the originators. Sciatic pain treatment has a wide range, within which medicines, physiotherapy, etc. are present.
Medicines for pain relief
There are different sorts of medications available that are used by a clinical specialist to reduce the pain. Among oral medicines, acetaminophen, aspirin, and ibuprofen like Advil, Ketoprofen, and Naproxen are common. Doctors commonly prescribe some muscle relaxants for easing spasms. Usage of antidepressants is also relevant for acute pain in the lower back portion. It must be kept in mind that aspirin is dangerous for people under 18 as it may increase the chance of Reye’s syndrome. Sometimes, steroids are given through injections into a site near the spinal nerve. Injections result in modest relief in case of pain by herniated or damaged disc.
Despite the difficulty in activities, doctors don’t suggest complete bed rest. Rather, different types of physical therapies are recommended, which is very much comfortable. In case of not-so-severe, yet persistent pains that stay over a couple of weeks, this is the most useful method. It also prevents patients from relapsing. However, it is important to consult a specialist regarding this and follow their suggestions accurately. A physical therapist and a physiatrist are recommended for sciatic pain treatment.
Exercise can help in getting rid of chemicals that cause inflammation and pain. You can try walking for 15-20 minutes; if not, some water aerobics or swimming can also help.
There are certain alternative methods for sciatic pain treatment. These methods include acupuncture, massage, yoga, and biofeedback therapy.
In case of acupuncture, the first sitting can give you the relief; however, it takes a total of 12 sittings for actual improvement. Studies have shown immense relief through this method.
Gentle forms of yoga can be beneficial by strengthening the muscles while increasing the movement.
- Massage therapy
Massage therapy is also a good option for sciatic pain treatment, especially the trigger point therapy. The nerve resides under the piriformis muscle. In case of tightened muscles, the pinch causing the pain starts. Here, pressure on the inflamed regions, i.e., the trigger points, is beneficial and can give effective results within 7-10 days.
- Hot/cold treatment
Ice or heat massage alternatively might be relieving for some patients. You can use an electric heating pad to check its effectivity. Remember not to sleep with the pad on the back!
- Biofeedback therapy
Biofeedback is a type of therapy that enables bodily processes like blood pressure, heart rate, and muscle tensions. It operates through a machine that provides information regarding the procedure. With its demonstration on the screen, the patient can actually find paths to control these essential processes. Stress issues are good to treat with this technique.
- Topical and herbal treatment
Topical preparations with applying anti-inflammatory oils two or three times a day on the affected areas can be helpful. Herbal medicines such as the devil’s claw are quite useful anti-inflammatories that operate like ibuprofen or other such medications.
Until it’s mandatory to operate, people don’t usually undergo surgery for sciatic pain. When everything fails, surgery is the last choice, though only 5-10% patients undergo surgery. In case of prolonged pain even after physical therapy, exercises, and medications, the doctor might recommend surgery. Rarely, this sort of pain gives birth to the cauda equine syndrome, wherein bowel and bladder control are lost. Such a severe case and needs immediate surgery.
There are two types of operations as a part of sciatic pain treatment: diskectomy and laminectomy. In the first case, the doctor eliminates those pressing on the nerve. It could be a herniated disc or a bone spur. The aim is to eradicate the cause that gives the patient pain. In case of the latter, the lamina portion, which is the ring of bones covering the spinal cord, is removed. You might have to for wait a day after the operation in these cases.