Quick Guide: Sciatic Nerve Pain Causes and Treatments

The sciatic nerve is a large nerve running from the lower back down the back of each leg.  Sciatic nerve pain, or sciatica, can hurt from your hip down to your toes or only partially down your leg.  Pain can range from mild to severe. Sciatica refers to the compression of the sciatic nerve, however, the true cause of the inflammation and nerve compression can be different.

Symptoms of sciatica include pain in the back of the legs and sometimes numbness, tingling, or burning as well as the pain.   You may experience difficulty moving the affected leg or foot and trouble walking. You may experience pins and needles in the affected leg.

Sciatica usually only affects one side of the body.  It can be mildly irritating or excruciating.  At its worst, the sufferer might not be able to walk.  You should seek medical attention immediately if you experience bowel or bladder control problems.


Sciatic Nerve Pain Causes

Sciatica can be caused by a few different things.  Most commonly it is caused by irritation of the lower lumbar and lumbosacral spine.  It can also be caused by a narrowing of the spinal canal in the lower back called lumbar spinal stenosis.  Sciatica can also be caused by a breakdown of discs in the back.  Pregnancy can also cause sciatic pain.

Being overweight and not getting enough exercise can also cause sciatica.  Women who wear high heels can also experience sciatic pain.  Sleeping on a soft mattress is also a cause.  Standing for many hours a day at work can also cause sciatic pain.

Treatments for Sciatic Nerve Pain

It is important to understand that the pain that the patients feel is not permanently. They could get away with time; it only needs about 6 weeks with proper treatments for sciatic nerve pain for the pain to get away. Patience is seriously needed to get rid of the pain. Some treatments for sciatic nerve pain should be considered to treat and alleviate the pain and discomfort. Usually, the sciatica specialist will suggest at least two options for treatments sciatica for the patients: physical therapy and surgery.

Medications for sciatica include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) medications such as ibuprofen.  Oral or injected medications can also help reduce inflammation and control the pain.  Strong anti-inflammatory medications and are sometimes injected directly into the nerve area.  Narcotics are sometimes prescribed if the pain is especially severe.

Building up the muscles around the affected area with physical therapy can also help reduce the pain.  If the sciatic nerve pain is extremely severe and other treatments are not helping, surgery may be needed.  Stretching exercises can also help reduce pain from sciatica.  Massage therapy may also help relieve the pain.

Physical Therapy

This kind of treatments for sciatic nerve pain is usually highly suggested for those who have herniated disk or slipped disk sciatic. Try to meet the physical therapist to talk and consult about the problem and the exercises more. There will be a thorough assessment that the patients should be gone through, but after they have passed the assessment, a treatment plan will be in order. This plan of treatments for sciatic nerve pain is for helping the muscle to relax and then strengthen the muscle inside. The flexibility and the posture will be fixed as well through this physical therapy.
Usually, the program that is developed in the treatments for sciatic nerve pain includes exercise to strengthen the core muscle, specific diagnosis, hamstring stretching, and aerobic exercises. The back and abdominal muscle should be strengthened properly so that the back will have the support that it needs. But before that, the specialist will give the specific diagnosis about the cause of the pain that the patients have, for example, whether it is spinal stenosis or herniated disc. Hamstring stretching is in order as well, since the tight hamstring will only do harm to the patients by aggravating the nerve even more Meanwhile, the aerobic exercises are suggested during the treatments for sciatic nerve pain to develop the fitness of the general body.


The surgery usually becomes the last option that the doctor gives if the pain does not leave even after six to twelve weeks of routine physical therapy. Lower back surgery is a legitimate and reasonable choice to make. There are two options for sciatica surgery that are usually selected as the treatments for sciatic nerve pain: microdiscectomy and open decompression. The kind of surgeries to undergo usually is made after considering the cause of the sciatic nerve pain and also the duration the patients have suffered from the pain. Both of them are generally a safe surgery, so the patients should not be too worried about this option of treatments for sciatic nerve pain.

Microdiscectomy or microdecompression

Is the kind of surgery that the patients can have if they have disc herniation as the cause of the sciatic nerve pain. During this surgery, the herniated disc, which is pinching the nerve and cause the pain, will be removed. The surgery is usually being put into consideration if after 4 to six weeks after the non-surgery treatments for sciatic nerve pain the patients still fund no improvement. However, if the pain that the patients feel has caused great disability. the surgery usually will be done sooner than 4 to six weeks. There are 90% to 95% chances that the patients will get better with this surgery as the treatments for sciatic nerve pain.

The open decompression surgery or lumbar spinal stenosis is a surgery that tries to remove the bone in small portion and the disc material which cause the sciatic nerve pain. Just like the herniated disc, the disc material and the bone are also pinching the nerve and thus make the patients feel a great pain. It is usually suggested by the doctor as the last treatments for sciatic nerve pain if the sciatic nerve pain causes the patients to fall. The general health of the patients is also should be put in mind when deciding this surgery. This open decompression surgery has 70% to 80% chance for the patients to get better after the surgery.

The surgery usually is given as the last resort of treatments for sciatic nerve pain. It is also up to the patients whether they want to undergo the surgery or not. However, the doctor will strongly recommend this option if the patients’ leg experiences excessive weakness due to the nerve pain. If there are no bad indications, then the patients can choose other resorts for treatments for sciatic nerve pain.

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