Sciatica is defined as the condition of shooting pain along the posterior aspect of the lower limb, typified by its characteristic to cross the knee and sometimes extend down to the foot, along the entire course of the sciatic nerve. Pressure on the sciatic nerve is the most common documented cause, accompanied by factors of intrinsic neuropathy. Among the causes of the former, cases of herniated discs outnumber the others. The others include pregnancy, infection, trauma, hematomas and so forth.
Sciatica treatment is dictated by the severity of the presenting complaint, the condition of the patient and the underlying pathology. The most important part of sciatica treatment, regardless of the above mentioned factors, is as much bed rest as possible. Although this line of treatment is advised to nearly all patients, its efficacy is still debatable and under research.
The second step that is taken in the course of sciatica treatment is the alleviation of symptoms. Pain killers are used, mostly on a self therapeutic level by the patients themselves. Oral and parenteral cortisone have been used with some efficacy as well owing to the anti- inflammatory properties of the drug. While the immediate symptoms are controlled, an investigation is made into the possible causes with the help of the history taken. For instance, a history of sudden trauma to the back may indicate compression due to a herniated disc or trauma-induced swelling and inflammation. In the cases of inflammation, anti-inflammatory therapy is usually adequate. In the cases of herniated discs, bed rest may be enough, or, if the patient’s age and condition allows it, surgery may be performed.
Among the surgical procedures conducted for sciatica treatment, the most common is the laminectomy, whereby the laminas of the concerned vertebrae are incised to relieve the pressure over the nerve. This is mostly indicated where the vertebral foramen have been found to be excessively narrow.
If all this is not possible, owing to the patient’s condition or lack of consent, a variety of non-pharmacological and non-invasive techniques are also available. This line of sciatica treatment includes muscle relaxation and exercise programs that help to cope up with the pain. Such measures are not restricted to sciatica only; they are also used in a variety of other painful conditions where therapeutics does not seem to have a commendable effect.
Sciatica, in spite of all these treatments, nearly always becomes chronic, necessitating caution and treatment for life. It is, however, an extremely manageable condition and does not have any associated morbidity and no significant debility as well.