Sciatica is characterized by numbness, pain or tingling that results from an irritation of nerve roots connecting to the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve refers to the nerve roots that emanates from the spinal cord and runs all the way to the lower back. This nerve continues into the hips and then runs down into the legs, ankles and feet. In most cases, sciatica is caused by the rupturing or bulging of a spinal disc, which presses down against the roots of the nerve that go directly into the sciatic nerve. On the other hand, it might be a sign of other underlying spinal conditions, such as bone spurs, pinched nerve or spinal stenosis.
Treatment for sciatica involves taking pain relieving medications such as acetaminophen and anti-inflammatory non-steroidal drugs including naproxen and ibuprofen. If the medication does not relieve the pain, doctors may prescribe a mildly opiate pain reliever, such as codeine. Treatment for sciatica for those with more severe symptoms includes muscle relaxants, such as diazepam to reduce the muscle spasms that are common with the condition. Patients with chronic lower back pains are also given tricyclic antidepressants, such as amitriptyline.
Another effective way of treating sciatica is through indulging in some form of physical exercise. This can be done by sitting less because it causes more strain on the nerve. You should also avoid lying down for long periods of time but instead take short walks in between. You can increase the walking distance as the pain reduces and also do some stretching exercises.
Using compression packs to reduce the pain is another way of treating sciatica. You can make a cold compression by wrapping an ice pack in a towel and placing it on your back for 10 to 15 minutes. You can alternate this with a hot heating pad or compression pack and keep on repeating this every two to three hours.
Another sciatica treatment that is recommended for persistent symptoms is physical therapy. As earlier stated, bed rest is not an effective way of dealing with the pain, so the physical therapist helps you in finding specific activities and positions that are more suitable. Appropriate exercises play a critical role in reducing the pain and preventing the condition from recurring. It is important to follow the physical therapist advice about exercises to prevent the recurrence of the pain.