Struggling with Sciatica?

These treatments can provide immediate relief for sciatica pain.

Sciatica is among the most common pain conditions, affecting up to 40% of people at some point in their life. Yet, despite its prevalence, this nerve pain remains largely misunderstood. Whether you’re seeking immediate relief for sciatica pain or want to prevent the pain from ever recurring, these sciatic nerve treatments and pain prevention methods are proven to reduce irritation.

But before we dive into proven treatments, let’s review some basic sciatica points.

What is Sciatica?

Sciatica refers to nerve pain radiating along the path of the sciatic nerve. It is technically not a condition, but rather a symptom of an underlying issue. This pain usually stems from compression or irritation of the sciatic nerve, which is the longest in the body—starting in the lower back and running down through the buttock and legs. When something like a bone spur or herniated disc compresses the sciatic nerve, it causes pain, numbness, tingling, or weakness thought the body parts along the sciatic path.

This nerve pain is often described as shooting or searing and unlike other common conditions where the pain is constant, sciatica is characterized by its flare-ups—often lasting anywhere from a few days to several weeks. Though flare-ups may dissipate on their own, that is not a reason to minimize this pain condition. Anyone who has experienced sciatica knows that the pain is, at best, destabilizing and, at worst, debilitating.

What causes sciatica?

Sciatica may occur as a result of a number of degenerative conditions or injuries, including:

  • Herniated disc
  • Lumbar spinal stenosis
  • Lumbar degenerative disc disease
  • Spondylolisthesis
  • Muscle spasm
  • Sacroiliac joint dysfunction

What is the best injection for sciatica?

Because sciatica pain typically occurs in spurts, lasting a few days to a few weeks before dissipating, some patients are hesitant to pursue pain interventions. But even if your Sciatica pain is not constant, it is still real—and sometimes debilitating. If you’re in need of immediate relief for sciatic pain—and rest and over-the-counter medications are just not helping—there are several pain management treatments and injections that can alleviate pain and irritation.

Immediate relief for sciatica pain

Epidural Steroid Injections:

  • These injections deliver a corticosteroid medication directly into the space around the spinal cord and nerve roots (the epidural space). By decreasing inflammation around the nerve roots, steroid injections can alleviate compression and irritation of the sciatic nerve, leading to reduced pain, numbness, and other symptoms of sciatica. The anesthetic medication combined with the steroid in the injection can provide immediate, short-term pain relief while the steroid takes effect over the next few days to provide longer-lasting relief.
Sacroiliac Joint Injections
  • If sciatic pain stems from sacroiliac joint dysfunction, then a sacroiliac injection may help to alleviate discomfort. During a sacroiliac joint procedure, medicine (comprised of a local anesthetic and steroid medication) is injected into the sacroiliac joint, which is located at the sacrum. A randomized study randomized demonstrated that intra-articular injections of corticosteroids into the SI joint provided significant pain relief in 50% of patients with SI joint-related leg pain, which includes sciatica-like symptoms
Facet joint injections
  • Inflamed or misaligned facet joints can contribute to irritation around the sciatic nerve. Facet joint injections are a procedure in which medicine (a mix of a local anesthetic and steroid medication) are administered into the facet joints, which are located in the vertebrae and allow for movement. If these joints degenerate, they cause irritation around the nerve.

Injections may help with spinal nerve pain symptoms temporarily, but they do not cure the underlying condition. Ultimately, their effectiveness varies from person to person and may have risks like infection, nerve damage, or temporary worsening of symptoms.

Your pain management doctor will determine which treatment is best for your sciatic based on your underlying condition and the root source of the nerve irritation.

How to keep your sciatic nerve healthy

Beyond in-patient treatments and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication, there are other lifestyle shifts and alternative therapies you can incorporate into your day-to-day to reduce your risk of sciatic nerve pain.

  1. Schedule time for exercise: Exercise is one of the most effective preventive measures for nerve irritation. Though sciatica specifically stems from nerve irritation, stiff muscles surrounding the nerve contribute to an overall feeling of tightness and discomfort. Incorporating movement into your scheduled every single day keeps your muscles loose.
  2. Work with a physical therapist: If you’ve dealt with sciatic nerve pain in the past and want to keep the pain from returning, physical therapy can teach you proper stretching and core-strengthening exercises that are specifically tailored to your body and how you move.
  3. Pay attention to your posture: Ultimately, sciatica is the result of compression along the nerve. Over time poor posture puts excessive strain on your back, which can lead to strained back muscles and misalignment. Sitting up straight, taking breaks from sitting during the day, and maintaining an upright, neutral spine while you walk are all small changes that have a big impact on your spinal health.
  4. Maintain a healthy weight: Carrying excessive weight also places extra pressure on your spine and back muscles, and studies show that obesity is a risk factor for recurring sciatic nerve issues.

Whether you’re seeking immediate relief for sciatica pain, or hoping to prevent the onset of future flare-ups, it’s vital to pay attention to your spinal health as a whole. The more you can support your spine with movement, weight management, and posture control, the more you can reduce your chances of spurring on intense nerve pain flare-ups.


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