Sciatica: Treatment and Recovery
Sciatica often responds well to non-operative forms of treatment and rarely requires surgical intervention. Time, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAIDs) medication, short-term use of a narcotic for acute pain, lumbar injections, and physical therapy are beneficial.
Although short-term bed rest is recommended during the acute phase, some activity is good. In this scenario "activity" is defined as being up for periods of time that will not cause severe pain. Prescribed exercise may include light stretching, walking, and aerobic type exercise.
Surgery is not for all patients. However, in some situations, surgery may be indicated. Patients who have followed a non-surgical course of treatment for four to six weeks without relief certainly require a re-evaluation by their physician. If a MRI scan reveals a herniated disc or spinal stenosis, surgery may provide relief of the leg pain. The type of surgical procedure is dependent in part on the patient's condition and diagnosis
Whether treatment for sciatica is non-operative or surgical, it is always wise to follow the instructions provided by the doctor and/or physical therapist.
Work toward relieving unnecessary mechanical stress to the spine. For example, when standing, alternate resting one foot on a stool. When driving, place a small pillow or rolled towel behind the back to maintain natural spinal curvature. At bedtime, sleep on the back with a pillow under the knees or between the knees if sleeping on the side.
Strive to eat healthy, work toward your ideal body weight, and avoid smoking. These lifestyle changes all benefit the spine's health.