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Sciatica Guide

Maryann Gromisch RN Guide

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ask: sciatic nerve pain

By Anonymous
 
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Is there anything that medicaid/medicare can do for a pinched sciatic nerve? I've got people from the bone & joint source who would love to give me cortisone shots. This is NO cure, it actually will weaken ones bones! When I lose weight in the backside, the pain lessens & goes away. But when those few pounds come back, so does the pain. I happened to gain 30 pounds rapidly after quitting smoking. I'm not an overeater whatsoever, if anything a health food nut. But the rapid weight gain, did me in. I'm wondering if weight removal in the general area would do the trick? Perhaps go back to heavy smoking? I don't think so! Frustrated!

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Alison Beaver

Well, the good new is: you are on the right track!

Irritation and pain in the sciatic nerve does tend to reoccur (unfortunately), but there are some steps you can take to help prevent it from coming back (the very things that may cause sciatic pain):
* Lose weight. Being overweight increases the risk of sciatica as well as other back, bone, and joint problems. The greater the weight problem, the greater the risk.
* If you smoke, quit. Smoking can damage your sciatic nerve.

Have you been diagnosed with Sciatica, pain and inflammation of the sciatic nerve, or were you diagnosed with an actual pinched sciatic nerve?

Cortisone shots may very well be a viable treatment for sciatica (sciatic nerve pain), as the goal of treatment is the stop the irritation and pain. Other sciatica treatment options range from medications, physical therapy and surgery:

Limited Physical Activity
Prolonged bedrest is usually not advised. However, your doctor may recommend resting in bed for one or two days. Too much bedrest can weaken muscles and slow healing. Doctors generally recommend staying active within the limits of your pain and avoiding activities that worsen back pain.

Medication
* Pain relievers like acetaminophen (Tylenol), aspirin, or ibuprofen
* Muscle relaxers for muscle spasm
* Cortisone pills or injections where the sciatic nerve comes out of the spine
* Antidepressants for chronic pain

Physical Therapy
* Hot or cold packs
* Stretching and strengthening exercises
* Massage
* Ultrasound treatments
* Electrical stimulation

Alternative Therapies
These therapies have not been proven by scientific studies to have an effect on sciatica. However, some people may find some pain relief from the following:
* Biofeedback
* Acupuncture

Surgery
Surgery may be done to relieve pressure on the sciatic nerve. This is performed in emergency situations or if conservative treatments fail. Common surgical procedures are microdiskectomy and lumbar laminectomy.

How long have you stopped smoking? Are you working with a health care professional, so that you can continue staying smoke-free? Are you working with a personal trainer or Registered Dietitian to help you lose weight, and eat the right "healthy foods" in smaller portions (or, be on a plan to modify you caloric intake)?

Remember--it takes time to lose weight and to stop smoking, and hopefully with these lifestyle changes your sciatic nerve pain will stop. In the meantime, if you choose medication or physical therapy to ease the pain and irritation, these seem like options you may want to look into. I had sciatic nerve pain/irritation when I was pregnant, and I know how awful it feels. Good luck!

August 25, 2009 - 12:38pm
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