Sciatica pain radiates from the lower spine down the back of your leg. Pain from the sciatic nerve can vary from sharp and jolting to a mild ache. Some sufferers find it worsens when they perform small actions, like coughing or sneezing. In addition to pain, sciatica can cause numbness, muscle weakness, or tingling. While surgery offers a treatment option for some with sciatica, results can be inconsistent and often include a long recovery. Here we will discuss the nonsurgical therapy options for sciatica pain.

What Is Sciatica?

Sciatica refers to pain stemming from the sciatic nerve. Beginning in the lower spine, the sciatic nerve splits and extends down both legs, all the way to the feet, making it the largest nerve in the body.

Often sciatica results from a problem in the lumbar spine, such as a herniated or bulging disc that compresses the nerve and creates pain that travels throughout one side of the body.

Nonsurgical Therapy Options for Sciatica

Once sciatica is diagnosed correctly, patients can explore treatment options. Frequently, patients can find relief without surgery. Some of the most effective non-surgical treatments include:

Physical Therapy

Often, physical therapy is the first treatment a physician recommends for those suffering from sciatica. The exercises and movements used in physical therapy strengthen and restore the range of motion to the core, buttocks, pelvis, and legs. 

Physical therapy focuses on reducing nerve and muscle spasms, improving mobility, fostering the spine’s healing, and restoring proper function to the lumbar spine and sacroiliac joint.

Medications

Over-the-counter or prescription anti-inflammatory medications, such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and naproxen, and prescription medications, such as muscle relaxants, may offer patients temporary relief from their sciatica pain. 

In addition, patients can use some topical medications in conjunction with oral medications, including:

  • Menthol
  • Capsaicin
  • Camphor
  • Methyl salicylate

Topical treatments often provide pain relief with fewer side effects than oral medications.

Steroid and Nerve Blocking Injections

Steroid and nerve blocking injections are common and effective treatments to reduce pain and increase functionality temporarily. 

A physician administers steroid injections and a local anesthetic into the space surrounding the nerve roots and spinal cord. Nerve blocking injections use live X-ray guidance to target the area where the nerve is compressed and turn off pain signals traveling to the brain.

Nerve blocks can be administered independently or in conjunction with steroid injections. 

Regenerative Medicine 

Recently, regenerative medicine which can include stem cell or platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections have provided an promising therapy option for sciatica. Both stem cells and PRP injections use the body’s natural healing properties to repair damaged cells, restore function, and reduce pain. 

These options may offer relief by reducing inflammation and accelerating the healing process. As a result, they are emerging as a preferred alternative to treatments like steroid injections, which can result in long-term side effects that include cartilage and nerve damage. These side effects can exacerbate sciatica symptoms. If you would like to learn more about the Nonsurgical therapy options for sciatica, contact Stemedix today!

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