Sciatica pain relief

Sciatica refers to pain that is caused due to pressure on the sciatic nerve often caused by a herniated or ruptured disc. This nerve rises from nerve roots at the end of the spinal cord. The pain usually radiates down the lower back and buttocks to the legs and feet. Pain is accompanied by weakness, numbness and tingling sensation in the leg or foot. Sciatica usually affects only one side of the body. Sitting or standing for long periods of time, heavy labor, lifting and bending frequently tends to aggravate this condition. Sciatica mostly resolves on its own within six weeks or so. Teatments for sciatica pain relief mainly involve using hot or cold compresses, analgesics, anti-inflammatory drugs, exercises, physiotherapy and, in severe cases, surgery.

Application of cold and hot compresses will greatly aid in sciatica pain relief. Although the compresses by themselves do not help resolve sciatica, they help relax muscles, ease pain, reduce inflammation and improve mobility. When pain begins, it is advised to apply a cold compress to the affected area for 20 minutes. Follow this with heat treatment.

Over the counter medications like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), such as ibuprofen, will help treat pain and inflammation. Sometimes, doctors may prescribe narcotic drugs like codeine for short term pain relief. Anti-depressants and anti-convulsants are also sometimes used for sciatica pain relief. Topical analgesic creams also help reduce mild sciatica pain. You can also use counter-irritants which are available in the form of spray or creams. They can be applied topically and work to give pain relief by creating feelings of cold or heat, thereby reducing pain.

In case your sciatica is severe, doctors may opt for more aggressive treatment with corticosteroids. These synthetic hormones mimic the action of cortisone and hydrocortisone. They are injected into the fluid around the spinal cord and greatly help reduce pain and inflammation. However, corticosteroids are not a long term solution for sciatica pain relief. There are many side effects associated with these medications and you cannot use corticosteroid injections more than thee times in a year.

If your sciatica is acute, you may be advised bed rest for a few days. Lying on a firm surface will help reduce the pain to some extent. Prolonged bed rest will not provide sciatica pain relief. As a matter of fact, it may worsen the condition. Exercise plays an important role in strengthening muscles and improving blood circulation. Gentle stretching exercises in particular are recommended to relieve sciatica. These exercises will help loosen muscles and increase the space between vertebrae. This will give more space for the nerves and prevent nerve compression. A physiotherapist will be able to suggest good exercises to help deal with sciatica.

Maintaining good posture and ergonomics while lifting, bending etc will help manage the pain associated with sciatica to some extent. Make sure the lower back is well supported while sitting. Avoid slouching while sitting or walking. Also, avoid standing for prolonged periods of time. Make sure your mattress is firm and provides good support while lying down. Mattresses which tend to sink under weight will not provide good support for the back and may worsen sciatica.

In extreme cases, surgery may have to be considered as an option for sciatica pain relief. Lumbar laminectomy and microdiscectomy are commonly performed surgical procedures to treat sciatica. The aim of the surgery is to remove the portion of the herniated disk which is exerting pressure on the sciatic nerve. Another type of surgery called spinal stenosis involves removal of the bone that is exerting pressure on the sciatic nerve.

Last updated on Jul 7th, 2010 and filed under Neurological Disorders. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

1 Response for “Sciatica pain relief”

  1. Great post! Here at Stalybridge Physiotherapy Clinic we have found that physiotherapy can greatly improve symptoms of sciatica. The Physiotherapist’s at the clinic would teach you a range of exercises that strengthen the muscles that support your back and improve the flexibility of your spine. They could also teach you how to improve your posture and reduce any future strain on your back.

Comments are closed