Sciatica is often due to various conditions including diseases, injuries or spinal degeneration that compresses on the sciatic nerve root in the lower back. The condition is characterized by tingling, pain, numbness or weakness that radiates from the lower back down the leg.
In some cases, the treatment for the underlying cause of nerve compression involves a short period of rest or mild activity. These can help relieve the symptoms but in cases of chronic sciatica that lasts for months, it might require an aggressive form of treatment.
The symptoms of sciatica that do not seem to improve after a few months are often managed more aggressively with corticosteroids. These are drugs that work by relieving the pain and inflammation.
Always bear in mind that these medications are usually administered via epidural which is an injection via a catheter that is inserted into the epidural space in the spine. There are some individuals who find that these injections alleviate the irritation and swelling of the nerve, but the effects of steroids are usually short-lived. Since corticosteroids can lead to side effects such as skin damage at the injection site and infection, only a few injections are allowed in a year.
Alternative treatment options
Individuals who have chronic sciatica who do not respond to conventional treatment might consider alternative treatment options to reduce the pain as well as improve mobility.
One treatment option is acupuncture that involves the placement of thin needles in strategic areas on the body. These are utilized to restore the flow of energy and health to the body.
Acupressure is similar to acupuncture that involves the use of fingers and elbows of the practitioner instead of needles. This is another alternative treatment that aims certain pressure points on the body
Biofeedback is also used if sciatica is caused by muscle tension. This treatment involves deep breathing and mind-body exercises to help empower the individual to control the pain.
Yoga is also beneficial for those who have sciatica due to piriformis syndrome which is a condition that involves swelling of the piriformis muscle that runs from the base of the spine up to the buttocks. As a result, the sciatic nerve is compressed.
Chiropractic treatment is used to adjust the spine to help minimize the inflammation and pain as well as improve mobility of the joint.
Surgery is a treatment option for individuals who suffer from constant sciatica due to a herniated disc. This is a condition that involves rupture of the exterior wall of a vertebral disc which disrupts with the spinal passageway and compresses on the sciatic nerve.
In some cases, surgery is only required on those who suffer from muscle weakness or severe pain that do not respond to other commonly used treatments and disrupts with daily functioning as well as aggravating nerve and neurological conditions including the loss of bladder and bowel control.