Sciatica is a term for a group of symptoms — such as shooting pain, numbness and weakness — that result from compression of the sciatic nerve. This long nerve branches off the lower spine and travels through the hips and down both legs. This is why hip and leg pain are so commonly associated with sciatica and why this condition is so disruptive to the lives of people who have it.
If the underlying cause of sciatica is a spine condition, like a herniated disc, many patients think that surgery is their only choice. However, it is possible for these symptoms to improve with time, especially by following recommended sciatica conservative treatment options and making necessary lifestyle changes. In fact, a large number of patients dealing with sciatica are able to find lasting relief without ever needing surgery.
Fully explore conservative treatments
To treat sciatica, most doctors will initially prescribe a course of conservative options, including:
- Physical therapy
- Pain medication
- Massage therapy
- Low-impact exercise
- Hot and cold compresses
- Epidural steroid injections
It is also common to recommend lifestyle changes to improve overall health such as:
- Quitting smoking
- Diet and exercise to reduce weight
- Improving posture
The goal of nonsurgical treatment of sciatica is to relieve pain while working to improve mobility. Combining this with measures to improve long-term health and physical fitness can take pressure off the spine, which can lead to noticeable improvement in sciatica.
When to think about surgery
In general, if closely following a plan of conservative treatment for sciatica does not improve symptoms, you might begin to explore surgery. When doing so, it’s important to be aware of the full range of surgical options. Due to the large muscle-tearing incision required to access the spine, traditional open spine procedures typically involve overnight hospitalization and a long, painful recovery period.
USA Spine Care performs minimally invasive spine surgery that is an alternative to traditional open spine surgery and associated difficulties. By using a small muscle-sparing incision, these procedures can be performed on an outpatient basis, with a reduced risk of surgical complications and a shorter recovery time.^
For more information, please contact our dedicated team today for a no-cost MRI review* to determine if you are a candidate for one of our procedures.