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Suggest remedy for severe sciatic nerve pain

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Posted on Mon, 26 Oct 2015
Question: Whats the best way to deal with sciatic nerve pain? And how can i help prevent it?
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Answered by Dr. Bonnie Berger-Durnbaugh (2 hours later)
Brief Answer:
Here are some suggestions for treatment and for prevention.

Detailed Answer:
Hello XXXXXXX

I am sorry you are having sciatic pain. This can be miserable and limiting.

In the first day or two, cold application is best to help decrease inflammation. You can use a bag of frozen peas/frozen veggies or a cold pack and leave it on 10 - 20 minutes. Put a cloth between you and the cold application so that you don't frostbite your skin. Repeat several times/day.

After the first few days, switch to hot packs or hot water bottle or other heat treatment to the area. Some people find that alternating heat and cold is helpful.

Most doctors also recommend a high dose of NSAIDs such as 600 mg ibuprofen 3x/day, taken after you have some food in your stomach. That is if you don't have stomach problems or a history of stomach ulcers or bleeding problems. You can do this for approximately a week to 10 days.

I almost always recommend physical therapy. PTs can help you with the current pain and possible muscle spasm that is around the irritated nerve, and with exercises to prevent future episodes. They can also teach you what movements are to be avoided.

Here are some exercises you can do at home to start with: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jrp1b7FnSqs BUT, if these make your symptoms worse, stop and do not do them.

Some studies have demonstrated benefit from acupuncture and from chiropractic manipulation.

If the pain is severe, sometimes opiate pain medications are prescribed briefly.

In cases that don't seem to respond, steroid injections can help decrease the inflammation around the irritated or pinched nerve.

Signs that you need to get medical help quickly are if you develop weakness or loose sensation in the leg, or lose bowel or bladder control.

And regarding preventing sciatica:

Risk factors for developing sciatica include prolonged sitting, obesity, and poorly controlled blood sugars (diabetes). There also is some thought that certain jobs put people at risk, such as prolonged driving, twisting, or carrying heavy loads. So actions you can take to change any of these risk factors that might apply to you might help prevent future flare ups.

I hope this information helps. Please let me know if I can provide further information or clarification.




Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Sonia Raina
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Answered by
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Dr. Bonnie Berger-Durnbaugh

General & Family Physician

Practicing since :1991

Answered : 3134 Questions

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Suggest remedy for severe sciatic nerve pain

Brief Answer: Here are some suggestions for treatment and for prevention. Detailed Answer: Hello XXXXXXX I am sorry you are having sciatic pain. This can be miserable and limiting. In the first day or two, cold application is best to help decrease inflammation. You can use a bag of frozen peas/frozen veggies or a cold pack and leave it on 10 - 20 minutes. Put a cloth between you and the cold application so that you don't frostbite your skin. Repeat several times/day. After the first few days, switch to hot packs or hot water bottle or other heat treatment to the area. Some people find that alternating heat and cold is helpful. Most doctors also recommend a high dose of NSAIDs such as 600 mg ibuprofen 3x/day, taken after you have some food in your stomach. That is if you don't have stomach problems or a history of stomach ulcers or bleeding problems. You can do this for approximately a week to 10 days. I almost always recommend physical therapy. PTs can help you with the current pain and possible muscle spasm that is around the irritated nerve, and with exercises to prevent future episodes. They can also teach you what movements are to be avoided. Here are some exercises you can do at home to start with: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jrp1b7FnSqs BUT, if these make your symptoms worse, stop and do not do them. Some studies have demonstrated benefit from acupuncture and from chiropractic manipulation. If the pain is severe, sometimes opiate pain medications are prescribed briefly. In cases that don't seem to respond, steroid injections can help decrease the inflammation around the irritated or pinched nerve. Signs that you need to get medical help quickly are if you develop weakness or loose sensation in the leg, or lose bowel or bladder control. And regarding preventing sciatica: Risk factors for developing sciatica include prolonged sitting, obesity, and poorly controlled blood sugars (diabetes). There also is some thought that certain jobs put people at risk, such as prolonged driving, twisting, or carrying heavy loads. So actions you can take to change any of these risk factors that might apply to you might help prevent future flare ups. I hope this information helps. Please let me know if I can provide further information or clarification.