When sciatica occurs, the resulting pain may be severe and disabling. The pain may be burning in nature and feel like electrical shocks going down a person’s leg. An individual may have a pins and needles sensation along with some numbness, and in some instances there may be some motor weakness such as a footdrop.
Even with intense symptoms, with appropriate treatment over 90% of those suffering are able to get the pain under control and avoid surgery. Here are eight effective treatment methods that allow nonoperative therapies to make life tolerable and avoid the need to undergo the nice.
First and foremost is medication management. Initially this should consist of over-the-counter medications including anti-inflammatories and Tylenol. For mild sciatica symptoms, this may work very well. Narcotic medication on a short-term basis can help tremendously with sciatica pain. Along with the opiates, muscle relaxers are beneficial, and membrane stabilizing agents such as Neurontin and Lyrica may provide additional pain relief.
The second treatment option to mention is a series of epidural steroid injections. These injections represent the gold standard for interventional pain management with sciatica.
The theory is that a nerve root is getting pinched which is sparking up inflammation and pain that travels down the nerve root. An epidural injection bathes the inflamed area with hefty anti-inflammatory medication, relieving the pain very well. A series of injections may be necessary, typically three over a six-week period. The results and research studies have shown efficacy between 75 and 90% for pain relief.
A third effective treatment option is physical therapy. This may help to relieve pain from a pinched nerve roots with exercises, electrical stimulation, ultrasound and massage.
A fourth option that goes hand-in-hand with physical therapy are chiropractic manipulations. While this option does not fix the problem of sciatica, it can take some pressure off of the nerve root at least temporarily with the adjustments. A chiropractor Los Angeles may help patients avoid surgery.
The next option (#5) are trigger point injections. The pinched nerve that is causing sciatica may also lead to muscle spasms in the low back. Trigger point injections may relieve this nicely and help in the overall management of sciatica.
The sixth treatment option is spinal decompression therapy. This involves intermittent traction, and was FDA cleared back in the late 1990s and has grown in popularity exponentially since then. Researchers shone that decompression therapy is effective over 85% of the time for pain relief from the disc herniation.
The seventh option is a TENS unit. A TENS unit is about the size of an iPod and goes on a person’s belt with battery power. Slight electrical impulses are placed through the skin through foam pads that can alter the way the brain perceives pain signals. The devices are inexpensive, and can be worn multiple times throughout the day.
The eighth option is actually a combination of two, acupuncture and massage. Acupuncture has been used for many years in eastern medicine in China, and has experienced exponential popularity in the US after multiple studies have shown pain relief to be excellent in many research studies. An acupuncture Los Angeles expert can reduce the need for narcotics and relieve muscle spasms and pain from sciatica.
These treatment options, either alone or in combination, have over a 90 to 95% effectiveness for relieving the pain of sciatica and helping patients avoid surgery. A landmark study in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that when surgery is performed, the outcome is no different than nonoperative treatment at the one year time point. Therefore, if surgery can be avoided it will benefit the patient in the long run.
If you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms of sciatica in the greater Los Angeles area, let the California Pain Network help you. The network connects those in pain with pain management Los Angeles and Santa Monica trusts. Simply fill out the contact form on the page or call (310) 626-1526 today!