Being the largest nerve supplying the lower limb, the sciatic nerve arises from the lumbo-sacral area of the spine and is susceptible to injuries in its origin as well as throughout its path.
When considering the main reasons for precipitating sciatica pain, herniated disks would be the commonest. Apart from these, inflammatory reactions affecting the closer by structures as well as trauma could also be seen in clinical practice. Tumours have also been noted as a cause for giving rise to sciatica pain and in other instances, it wouldn’t be possible to find a cause at all.
Thus, managing a sciatica patient should be directed in following paths,
* Symptomatic improvement of the pain
* Correcting the underlying cause
* Preventing further damage
* Maintaining and improving the movements and mobility of the limbs
Therefore, following methods are usually practiced in relieving these patients from sciatica but the effectiveness of each method would vary according to the underlying disease condition as well as patient susceptibility in developing such conditions.
* Physical treatment
Patients with sciatica seem not to gain anything better by bed rest or complete rest. But, if they are introduced into gradual process of stretching, relaxation, joint and limb mobility exercises; the recovery seems to be much faster. Thus, the gradual mobilization and appropriate physical activities has been considered the mainstay of treatment in most of the sciatica conditions.
* Medical treatment
Anti inflammatory medications can play a vital role in the management of pain in sciatica patients and many such analgesics are available as over the counter drugs. Apart from such pain relieve medications, steroidal injections can be given to the affected region and thus reduce the inflammatory reaction which can give certain amount of benefit to the patient.
* Surgical interventions
If the sciatica is the direct result of compression or entrapment by a herniated disk, doctors might opt for surgical interventions, once the other management options fails to give adequate results. These surgical interventions will depend on the severity of the symptoms, patient state as well as quality of life.
From different types of surgical interventions, laminectomy and micro-diskectomy has been widely used and could relieve the pain to a great extent.
Apart from such specific treatment options, hot compressions with ice and relaxation techniques will also support the pain relief strategies adapted in sciatica.