7 Nonsurgical Treatment Options for Chronic Sciatica

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7 Nonsurgical Treatment Options for Chronic Sciatica

The pain syndrome called sciatica occurs when a condition compresses the sciatic nerve, creating symptoms anywhere along its path. Sciatica usually heals with conservative treatments rather than surgical solutions.

A pair of major nerves, running between the lower back and your feet, the sciatic nerves contain both sensory and motor nerves. Problems affecting nerve tissue cause pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness, typically on just one side and with a mix of symptoms that varies with each patient. 

Any condition affecting the sciatic nerve falls under the label of sciatica. Our team at Metro Anesthesia & Pain Management specializes in treating sciatica symptoms. We can help you control symptoms and maintain the quality of daily living as you recover. 

Surgery for chronic sciatica is rare. You can recover naturally from most episodes. 

Causes of sciatica

Often, the origin of sciatica starts at the spine, where nerves from the spinal cord branch off and form the sciatic nerves. While you have a sciatic nerve in each leg, it’s unusual (though not impossible) that both nerves are symptomatic simultaneously. 

Compression of nerve tissue causes sciatica; the reasons vary. Herniated discs may press on nerve tissue, or a narrowing of spinal passageways (spinal stenosis) could be the source. Injury to the sciatic nerve, the longest and thickest nerve in the body, may also result in sciatica symptoms. 

7 nonsurgical treatment options for chronic sciatica

Effective reduction of sciatica symptoms means relieving nerve compression or altering how the nerve reports pain. Here are seven treatments that often provide relief for sciatica. 

Hot and cold therapy

Alternating hot and cold compresses can help relax muscles and reduce inflammation at the site where your chronic sciatica pain originates. 

Gentle activity

Moderate amounts of low-impact movement, such as walking or swimming, can build strength in spinal support muscles without adding to the sciatica burden. 

Over-the-counter NSAIDs

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) help manage pain and reduce inflammation in your body. Use these temporarily for the worst pain episodes. Long-term use for chronic pain isn’t recommended. 

Physical therapy

Targeted exercise builds support for the muscles that surround and support the lower back and core. Development of these muscles transfers some of the load off the bones of the lower back. 

Steroid injections

Corticosteroids provide powerful anti-inflammatory effects that often bring long-lasting relief from sciatica symptoms, particularly to nerve roots in the epidural space of the spine. 

Nerve blocks

Targeting specific nerve roots rather than the space surrounding them, nerve block injections work well on identified elements of the sciatic nerve that cause symptoms. 

Ketamine therapy 

Using low-dose intravenous (IV) infusions of the gentle surgical anesthetic, ketamine therapy produces widespread pain relief throughout the body, including sciatica pain. 

As well as these therapies, we offer several minimally invasive treatments, such as spinal cord stimulation and radiofrequency ablation. We recommend the therapies that best match your sciatica causes and symptoms. 

Start the process by contacting one of our convenient locations, in West Des Moines and Des Moines, Iowa, for a pain assessment and consultation. Call or click to book your sciatica appointment today.