Sciatica, or sciatic nerve pain, occurs when the sciatic nerve is pinched or irritated. It is characterized by a sharp pain running down the back of the leg, and sometimes tingling or pressure that can be felt all the way into the toes. This condition can be caused by four main problems such as a herniated disc; slipped or ruptured disc; spinal stenosis, narrowing of an area of the spine; spondylolisthesis, bone in spine slips forward; and piriformis syndrome, which is when the piriformis muscle irritates the sciatic nerve. There are various forms of treatment to help relieve sciatic nerve pain and your physician can help you determine the right one for you.
Apply a cold or hot pack to the affected area for 20 minutes to see if it relieves pain.
Try physical therapy or exercises. Once pain improves, a physical therapist can help you devise an exercise regime that can help pain and reduce future occurrences.
Relieve sciatic nerve pain with over-the-counter medication, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, to reduce inflammation. Make sure to follow the directions on taking the medication. Consult your physician if these medications are not useful and your doctor can prescribe prescription medications to relieve pain.
Consider an epidural steroid injection if pain is still bothersome. Your physician may inject a corticosteroid medication to the affected area, which will reduce inflammation around the painful nerve.
Discuss surgical options with your physician. This is usually reserved for extreme cases of severe muscle weakness or bladder incontinence. This is usually a last resort if other means do not work, but surgical outcomes are usually successful. Your physician can help you weigh the benefits and risks of surgery.