Sciatica is one of the most common diagnoses for leg pain. The condition is triggered when a nerve is pinched in the lower back. The sciatic nerve runs from the lower spine all the way down each length of the legs to the feet. When the nerve gets pinched in the lower back, the entire lower half of the body is affected.
How does the nerve get pinched?
Typically, a disk cracks and enlarges into the spinal canal. If the herniated disk bulge is large enough, the sciatic nerve gets pinched.
Many patients describe the pain associated with their sciatica as intolerable, which is why so many chiropractors and physicians have worked to establish reliable sciatica pain relief.
Patients opt for a certain sciatica treatment based on pain severity, physician recommendation, lifestyle, and rehabilitation goals.
Here are 11 Effective Treatments for Sciatica:
- Chiropractic Care. Spinal manipulation by a chiropractor can relieve pain associated with sciatica and bring patients back to optimal physical mobility and health. Chiropractors assess other parts of the body that could be affecting the cause of sciatica so that once patients are relieved from pain, they are healed and healthy for the long run.
- Acupuncture. Acupuncture works on the meridian lines of energy, applying needle pressure into affected areas in order to reduce inflammation, clear energy blockages and relieve pain.
- Yoga. Yoga has a number of benefits that relieve pain and restore mobility. Working with a private yoga instructor ensures proper alignment and special modifications for sciatica. If you attend a standard class, be sure to let your instructor know you have sciatica so that you can get custom modifications and alternative postural instruction throughout the class.
- Massage. Trigger-point therapy is the most useful type of massage as it applies pressure to areas of inflammation in the lower back. Other massages can also relieve pressure and increase blood flow to stimulate healing.
- Topical Treatments. Try a topical treatment such as St. John’s wort oil, an anti-inflammatory oil. Applying the oil topically two to three times a day allows the treatment to seep into the skin and get to affected muscles. Talk to your physician about topical oils and creams; there is a wide variety available to sciatica patients.
- Ice or Heat. The sciatic nerve is burrowed deep within the body, so while heat and ice cannot provide pain relief, they can signal help from the body to the affected area.
- Devil’s Claw. Devil’s claw is a potent herbal medication that acts as an anti-inflammatory. It is not recommended for patients on blood-thinning medications.
- Pain Relievers/Muscle Relaxants. Pain relievers and muscle relaxants might be prescribed to alleviate the pain associated with muscles spasms triggered by a pinched nerve.
- Epidural Steroid Injections. Epidural steroid injections are reserved for severe cases of pain after other treatments have been attempted without results. An x-ray monitor guides a steroid injection toward the sciatic nerve to reduce the proximate inflammation.
- Exercise and Physical Therapy. Increasing blood flow to the bulging disk and sciatic nerve is essential for keeping the affected area clear of chemical congestion, which causes the inflammation. Moving sounds like a last interest to sciatica patients, but even walking for 20 minutes a day will keep you healthier. Ask your chiropractor about a custom physical therapy plan.
- Surgery. As a last resort, surgery might be the only solution for symptom relief.