Sciatica is a form of pain that radiates into your lower leg from the back of your thigh. Lower spinal nerve irritation may cause it. Your pain may be mild or it can be severe to the point where you seek treatment. It frequently develops due to lower spine wear and tear. Fortunately, sciatica can often be relieved within a few weeks with conservative methods without surgery. There are a number of non-surgical alternatives to surgery, including the five listed below.
5 Non-Surgical Treatment Options for Sciatica Pain
Five different types of non-surgical treatment options for sciatica nerve pain include:
1. Cold and Heat Therapy
Applying a cold pack to the area where you’re first experiencing sciatica pain can offer you a great deal of relief. You can wrap up a bag of frozen peas in a towel or use a cold pack. Apply either to the painful area for around 20 minutes, several times daily.
After a few days, if you’re still experiencing sciatica pain, then you can try heat instead. You can apply heat to the painful area by using a:
- Heating pad
- Hot pack
- Heat lamp
If the pain persists, you can try to alternate between cold and hot therapy.
2. Physical Therapy with Exercise
Physical Therapy that incorporates exercise is generally the first-line treatment to relieve, treat, and prevent symptoms of sciatica. To treat sciatica PT may:
- Contribute to the healing of the underlying cause
- Offer symptom relief
- Prevent flare ups and recurrences
PT with exercise can help strengthen and mobilize your lower back, abdomen, pelvis, buttocks, and thigh tissues. The goals of physical therapy with exercise in treating sciatica symptoms are to:
- Ease pain in the lower back, thigh, leg, and buttocks
- Restore functional, pain-free movement patterns
- Restore lumbar spine and sacroiliac joint function
- Reduce muscle spasm
- Promote neurological adaptations to decrease pain perception
- Improve lower body mobility
- Decrease fear linked with movement
- Prevent future pain flare ups
- Foster an improved healing environment in your lower back
When it comes to treating sciatica successfully with physical therapy with exercise, frequency and commitment are essential.
3. Chiropractic Treatment and Massage
Alternative sciatica treatments such as chiropractic treatment and massage may offer some pain relief. To reduce pain and improve spinal function, a chiropractor can increase spinal movement by adjusting your spine. Chiropractic treatment may also ease sciatica-related lower back pain, but it’s not as effective on radiating pain.
Sciatica pain can cause tight muscles as well. Massage may help to loosen your muscles up, which can alleviate some of your pain and possibly improve flexibility and mobility.
4. Epidural Steroid Injections (ESIs)
ESIs are a common option of treatment for many types of leg and lower back pain. They’ve been used for years and are an important part of nonsurgical management of lower back pain and sciatica. This treatment involves the injection of steroid medication and local anesthetic directly into your epidural space that surrounds your nerve roots and spinal cord.
The goals of ESIs are to:
- Improve lower back and leg function and mobility
- Control pain by decreasing inflammation around and in your nerve roots
Generally, ESIs are recommended after physical therapy, medications, and other non-surgical treatments are tried, and before the consideration of surgery.
5. Diagnostic Nerve Blocks & Radiofrequency
Doctors use nerve blocks to help manage pain. However, they can also use them as a diagnostic tool to help determine if there are certain nerves that are causing the pain. Nerve blocks can help your doctor predict how the pain you’re experiencing will respond to long-term therapies. If nerve blocks help provide you with temporary pain relief, then applying radiofrequency to the same nerve can potentially offer pain relief for a longer time period.
Sciatica can be quite painful and can impact the quality of life. It can make daily life activities more challenging. Fortunately, there are non-surgical treatment options that can help ease your pain and reduce your symptoms. You’ll want to speak with your doctor to see which treatment options are a good fit for your symptoms and personal situation.
For reliable and effective pain management options for sciatica and other types of pain, the Southern Pain team can coordinate an effective treatment plan that’s tailored specifically for you. Contact them today to schedule an appointment.