Sciatica refers to the symptoms and pain associated with damage to the sciatic nerve. Sciatica is usually characterised by pain, weakness, tinging, numbness and weakness in one or both legs. Treatments include resting, physiotherapy, drug therapy and, in rare cases, surgery.
Rest and Physiotherapy
Generally, the best treatment for sciatica is to allow the condition to resolve on its own over time. A number of steps are taken to help the sciatica resolve itself. First, some patients are prescribed a physiotherapy regime, including mild exercises of the lower back and muscles in the lower extremities. Stretching the Piriformis muscle may also be helpful, as can balancing the pelvis (you can tell if your pelvis is unbalanced by lying on the floor and putting your hands by where your belt goes to feel if there is more pressure on one side of your pelvis than the other). Finally, icing your sciatic nerve and/or supporting the nerve with a brace or other support device, might help aid recovery.
Some patients are given steroid injections to and around the sciatic nerve to reduce inflammation. Many patients take pain killers for the symptoms of sciatica, while waiting for the sciatic nerve to heel. Analgesics (over-the-counter pain medications such as acetaminophen or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications called NSAIDs) are usually prescribed first. If this does not relieve the pain, then prescription pain killers may be recommended. Painkillers that have proven effective in treating sciatica include carbamazepine, phenytoin and tricyclic antidepressants.
In rare cases where there is extreme sciatic nerve damage, surgery may be required to cure the sciatica. The surgery is designed to relieve the pressure on the sciatic nerve that is causing the sciatica. It may involve repairing slipped disks or legions that are putting pressure on the nerve or fusing the vertebrae of the spine together in a procedure called a spinal fusion.