Treatment of Sciatica

Alternative Treatment Options

Lifestyle and home remedies

In addition to resuming usual activities, try the following measures:

  • Cold packs. Initially, using cold packs may be able to reduce inflammation and relieve discomfort. 15 to 20 minutes at least several times a day.
  • Hot packs. After 48 hours, apply heat to the areas that hurt.
  • Stretching. Stretching exercises for your low back can help you feel better and may help relieve nerve root compression.
  • Regular exercise. It may seem counterintuitive to exercise when you’re in pain, but regular exercise is one of the best ways to combat chronic discomfort. Exercise prompts your body to release endorphins – chemicals that prevent pain signals from reaching your brain.


Acupuncture – What’s Old is New!
Acupuncturists insert very fine needles (sterilized and disposable) into precise points on the body. The points are called Meridians. Each Meridian is the same as a channel, acupoint, or acupuncture point. Because Meridians run close to the skin’s surface, it is not necessary to insert needles deep into tissue. Meridians correspond to specific parts of the body, or a body system such as the nervous, musculoskeletal, cardiovascular, or lymphatic system. During an acupuncture treatment, the practitioner may gently twirl, heat or stimulate by other means some or all the needles.

Acupressure – Close Cousin to Acupuncture
A close cousin to acupuncture is Acupressure. Acupressure is a non-invasive, safe and gentle therapy. It unblocks Qi without needling. The acupressure practitioner uses their thumbs, fingers and elbows to place a precise amount of pressure to specific body points. Acupressure therapy includes the application of consistent pressure to one or more points and briskly rubbing the acupressure point to stimulate it. Acupressure points and acupuncture points are identical.

Yoga – Balancing Mind and Body
Yoga stretches may lessen sciatica when the cause is piriformis syndrome (sometimes a controversial diagnosis). Piriformis syndrome involves the piriformis muscle found in the lower part of the spine. This muscle aids hip rotation. Gently stretching this muscle may help reduce sciatic pain. However, certain yoga stretches do not benefit sciatica.

Biofeedback – Connecting the Mind and Body

Biofeedback often requires intensive patient participation and is not for everyone. Biofeedback is a mind-body therapy that teaches the patient how to change or control a habitual reaction to stress or pain. Some experts view biofeedback as a controversial therapy because its use to treat low back pain has not been adequately researched. Despite this view, many patients have benefited from biofeedback training.

By teaching the patient deep breathing techniques, visualization, and mental and physical exercises, the patient learns how to control – in this case, muscle tension that may contribute to sciatica.


Medical Treatment Options

Treatment is aimed at maximizing mobility and independence. The cause of the nerve dysfunction should be identified and treated as appropriate. In some cases, no treatment is required and recovery is spontaneous.

Conservative treatment is usually appropriate if there was sudden onset, minimal sensation changes, no difficulty in movement, no history of trauma to the area, and no evidence of degeneration of the nerve axon.

Surgical removal of lesions that press on the nerve, such as a herniated disk, may relieve symptoms. In cases of severe injury to the nerve, such as laceration, recovery may be not possible or may be limited.

Injections can be used to reduce inflammation around the nerve. Over-the-counter or prescription analgesics may be needed to control nerve pain.

Various other medications may reduce the stabbing pains that some people experience, including phenytoin, carbamazepine, or tricyclic antidepressants such as amitriptyline. Steroids may help with nerve inflammation related to a herniated disk.

Whenever possible, their use should be avoided or minimized to reduce the risk of medication side effects.

Physical therapy exercises may be appropriate for some people to maintain muscle strength. The use of braces, splints, orthopedic shoes, or other appliances may help compensate for lost or impaired function. Vocational counseling, occupational therapy, occupational changes, job retraining, or similar interventions may be recommended.



~ by pcl4 on September 17, 2008.

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