Because sciatica is a symptom of another medical condition, the underlying cause should be identified and treated.
In some cases, no treatment is required and recovery occurs on its own.
Conservative (non-surgical) treatment is best in many cases. Your doctor may recommend the following steps to calm your symptoms and reduce inflammation:
- Apply heat or ice to the painful area. Try ice for the first 48 to 72 hours, then use heat.
- Take over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB) or acetaminophen (Tylenol).
Measures to take care of your back at home:
- Bed rest is not recommended.
- Reduce your activity for the first couple of days. Then, slowly start your usual activities.
- Do not do heavy lifting or twisting of your back for the first 6 weeks after the pain begins.
- Start exercising again after 2 to 3 weeks. Include exercises to strengthen your abdomen and improve flexibility of your spine.
Physical therapy may also be recommended. Additional treatments depend on the condition that is causing the sciatica.
If these measures do not help, your doctor may recommend injections of certain medicines to reduce swelling around the nerve. Other medicines may be prescribed to help reduce the stabbing pains due to nerve irritation.
Nerve pain is very difficult to treat. If you have ongoing problems with pain, you may want to see a neurologist or a pain specialist to ensure that you have access to the widest range of treatment options.