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Can Sciatic Nerve Treatment Relieve Your Back Pain?

Updated on September 11, 2014

Sciatic Nerve Treatment Must be Tailored to the Individual

To be effective, sciatic nerve treatment must be appropriate for your specific condition.

To explain, sciatica is a term referring to a cluster of symptoms that usually include pain to the lower back, buttock, leg and foot. This pain may be severe and it can be accompanied by numbness, weakness of the muscles, a tingling feeling resembling "pins and needles" and problems moving or controlling the leg. You typically experience this pain or discomfort on one side of the body only.

These symptoms, usually related to a compression or irritation of the sciatic nerve, can have several causes.

Given that sciatica refers to symptoms and is not itself a diagnosis, sciatic nerve treatment must address whatever condition is irritating the sciatic nerve - and this can be any one of several possibilities. Fortunately, there are several treatment options that can do much to reduce or even cure the pain.

It goes without saying that removing this type of lower back and leg pain will greatly enhance your quality of life.

Possible Causes of Your Sciatica

Several Culprits Can Cause Sciatica Nerve Pain

The sciatic nerve is your body's biggest nerve. It runs down from your lower back, through your buttock and into the leg. If this nerve is pinched or damaged, you can develop the symptoms known as sciatica.

Various factors can cause this nerve irritation. These factors include a herniated disc, atrophy of one or more discs (usually attributed to age related degeneration or an injury), a narrowing of the spinal cord (called stenosis) or by vertebrae being out of position.

The video below may shed some light on the possible causes.

Video: Doctor Explains the Cause of Sciatica

Over The Counter Remedies for Sciatica

For Short Term Conditions

In some cases, sciatic is temporary, meaning it may continue for a month and a half or less.

In this situation, over the counter remedies such as painkillers, combined with warm and hot compresses, are a good treatment choice.

Sciatic pain that is severe, or that lasts longer than six weeks may require a more aggressive therapeutic remedy.

Epidural Injections

Pain Relief but not a Cure

If the sciatic pain is severe, a physician might treat the condition with an epidural injection. An epidural injection delivers a local anaesthetic or steroids into the region around the spinal cord.

This does nothing to remove the cause of the pain, but it will provide you with freedom of the pain. The effects of one of these injections can last for several months.


Various Techniques Tailored to the Cause of the Back Pain

There are several varieties of approaches that a physiotherapist can offer. As may be expected, the correct choice is one that addresses your specific type of sciatica.

The McKenzie Method is one possibility. It is likely to be used in the case of a herniated disc. Disc herniation occurs when the protective cartilage between the discs gets moved out of place. This in tern exerts pressure on the nerve roots, giving rise to the layman’s term of “pinched nerve.”

Depending on your situation, a physiotherapist may opt instead for massage, mobilization technique, myo-fascial release or other types of soft tissue therapy.

Surgery to Relieve Sciatica

A Final Resort

In general, surgery does not have a high long-term success rate when it comes to relieving back pain. Fortunately, the chances of success are higher when the pain is sciatic. Regardless, surgery should be viewed as the approach to use when all else has failed. Physicians tend to recommend it only to those who are experiencing severe pain and other symptoms.

Surgery can usually correct or improve back pain caused by a herniated disc.

Another, more complex surgical procedure is known as a laminectomy, a procedure in which the surgeon removes a section of the spine. This provides additional space for the nerve or nerves, thereby reducing or elimination the pressure. A physician may suggest this procedure if your sciatic pain stems from compression of the nerves.

Patients suffering from a condition known as spinal stenosis may be candidates for a laminectomy. Spinal stenosis is a painful condition in which the spinal canal narrows and presses upon the spinal cord and/or sciatic nerve roots. The canal’s narrowing can be caused by several different factors, some of which are inflammation, herniated discs, bone spurs and spondylolisthesis (the anterior displacement of a vertebra or the vertebral column).

The success rate for surgical procedures to treat sciatic pain range from seventy percent to ninety-five percent

Sciatica Treatment Poll

What treatment methods have you tried?

See results

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    • DANCING COWGIRL profile image

      Dancing Cowgirl Design 3 years ago from Texas

      I could sure use some help with my back. Been getting treated at the Chiropractor lately.

    • profile image

      TanoCalvenoa 3 years ago

      I've had this for about 17 years, and have found exercise to be the best solution. Pain relievers of course just cover up the symptoms temporarily and don't resolve the underlying problem.

    • profile image

      nifwlseirff 5 years ago

      I have sciatica caused by inflammation of the soft tissue, and nerve channel between the lower back and the legs. It's terribly painful! After suffering flares for nearly 20 years, I found that physio and flexibility exercises worked the best. NSAIDs are a short term bandaid, chiros managed to tear the soft tissues and make the problem worse. Movement and flexibility exercises, as long as I do them regularly, help the best and keep the problem at bay.

    • junecampbell profile image

      June Campbell 5 years ago from North Vancouver, BC, Canada

      @anonymous: Sorry, no. I do not know anything about the surgery you mention. I am more into energy healings such as those taught by Donna Eden in her book Energy Medicine, or by meridian tapping.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Do you have any information on having the sciatic nerve surgically severed. I used to be a nurse and was injured by a patient. I've had surgery to correct a herniated disk but my sciatic nerve was scarred and I'm in constant pain.

    • junecampbell profile image

      June Campbell 7 years ago from North Vancouver, BC, Canada

      @Virginia Allain: Excellent. I'm happy to hear you found a solution to your pain.

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 7 years ago from Central Florida

      Actually I found that after a chiropractor straightened my back, then my sciatic nerve pain cleared up and my TMJ (misaligned jaw) symptoms also cleared up.