Sciatic nerve pain is a common condition that affects 10% of Americans with back pain. The disease is prevalent in persons with chronic lower back pain and athletes. Sciatic nerve pain comes from the sciatic nerve, the largest nerve in the body. This nerve starts in the lower back, branches through the buttocks, and down the lower leg. Persons with sciatic nerve pain feel pain and numbness in the back of the thigh, leg, and buttocks.
What's causing your pain?
Sciatic nerve pain or sciatica often comes from a degenerative disc in the spine. The damaged disc presses on surrounding nerves like the sciatic nerve. This can cause severe pain, numbness, and even a foot drop. Some persons, like athletes, may develop pseudo-sciatica. The piriformis muscle becomes inflamed, pressing on the sciatic nerve. Whatever the reason, there 3 treatment options that can help with the nerve pain.
1.Try some NSAIDs
As the first line of defense, doctors will often recommend non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs. Common NSAIDs include ibuprofen or aspirin. When a disc or muscle presses on the sciatic nerve, there is often inflammation at the site. NSAIDs help to relieve pain by blocking the body's inhibitors that create inflammation. Though not as strong as steroids, NSAIDs display similar qualities. Persons with sciatic pain can access NSAIDs over-the-counter. These drugs can work in acute pain cases, with some taking just a few hours to provide relief. Doctors can also prescribe stronger NSAIDs if the over-the-counter medication fails.
2. All about opioids
NSAIDs and other over-the-counter medications help with acute pain. But for unbearable, chronic pain, some sciatica sufferers need more potent medications. A doctor can prescribe medications like opioids. Opioids are potent drugs that block the pain receptors in the brain. While opioids are useful, there is a severe risk of dependency on the drug. The body can build a tolerance to opioids, which can encourage patients to become dependent. There must be a detailed plan between doctor and patient about opioid use and eventually looking at sciatica's root cause.
3. A shot to the spine
Steroid injections are a great, effective option to relieve pain. Called an epidural steroid injection, the shot can reduce inflammation and pain for several months at a time. In a simple outpatient procedure, a doctor injects the steroid near the affected nerve roots. While injections work, patients are advised to avoid multiple injections. For safety reasons, doctors don’t administer more than 3 injections per year.
Enjoy a pain-free life
Sciatica can impact the quality of life. The pain can affect even the simplest tasks like sitting, climbing stairs, or bending over. There are a range of medications that can help relieve sciatic nerve pain. Each drug and injection has significant benefits. However, persons with sciatic nerve pain should try to address the root cause of the pain. This may include physical therapy or surgery. Consult a doctor or pharmacist for the best medication for sciatic pain.
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