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What can I do to relieve sciatic nerve pain?

By October 24, 2010 - 4:39pm
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I have degenerative disc in my spine but am not a good candidate for back surgery and I've know some when the surgery didn't help anyway. It is so painful and goes all down my leg to my foot.

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EmpowHER Guest

A friend just fell on her back and X-rays show a slipped disc. What treatment should she get?

April 11, 2018 - 3:00pm
HERWriter Guide (reply to Anonymous)

Hello Anon

We cannot recommend treatment based on a friend's "slipped disc" - she may need surgery or physical therapy but she will need to follow the recommendations of her doctor. This is a painful condition - we wish her a speedy recovery.

April 11, 2018 - 3:57pm

I am glad you found EmpowHER..we have a great deal of information on sciatica, and I hope you find some relief soon from your chronic pain.

- EmpowHER Reference: Sciatica
Treatment: The goal of treatment is to reduce sciatic nerve irritation.
Treatment options include:
Limited Physical Activity
Prolonged bedrest is usually not advised. However, your doctor may recommend resting in bed for 1-2 days. Too much bed rest can weaken muscles and slow healing. Doctors generally recommend staying active within the limits of your pain and avoiding activities that worsen back pain.

* Pain relievers, such as acetaminophen , 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
Physical therapy may be done at home or at work. It may include the following:
* 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 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 .

Talk to your doctor about the right treatment plan for you. For example, a study found that after one year, there was little difference between patients that had microdisketomy and those that had conservative treatment (such as rest, physical therapy, and medications). But, people that had surgery did report faster recovery time. *

Sciatica tends to recur. The following steps may help keep it from coming back or, in some cases, from happening in the first place:
* 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.
* When lifting, hold the object close to your chest, maintain a straight back, and use your leg muscles to slowly rise.
* Practice good posture to reduce pressure on your spine.
* Sleep on a firm mattress.
* Exercise regularly , at least 30 minutes most days of the week. Good choices include: walking, swimming, or exercises recommended by your doctor or physical therapist. Exercises that strengthen the abdominal muscles will also help by supporting the back.
* If possible, avoid sitting or standing in one position for prolonged periods.
* Use a low back support during prolonged sitting. Rest one foot on a low stool if standing for long periods.
* Consider job retraining if your work requires a lot of heavy lifting or sitting.
* If you smoke, quit. Smoking can damage your sciatic nerve.

Other articles related to sciatica:
- In her own words: Living with Sciatica
- What is Sciatica, expert video
- Sciatica, cause and effect
- List of Sciatica treatment articles

Other resources:
- Sciatica.org: http://www.sciatica.org/

I know this is a lot of information, but I hope you find something that works for you! Please let us know how you are doing!

October 24, 2010 - 8:12pm
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