Can You Treat Persistent Sciatica Without Surgery?

If you're tired of the constant pain shooting down your leg and disrupting your daily life, but you’re not ready for surgery, you’re probably wondering what options are left to treat your sciatica. 

Good news: you have several options here at International Spine, Pain & Performance Center in Washington, D.C., and Arlington, Virginia.

Here's how you can tackle persistent sciatica without resorting to surgery.

Learn what’s causing your sciatica

Your sciatic nerve is your largest nerve—it's about as wide as a penny. Unfortunately, it can be easily inflamed, pinched, or otherwise irritated, and when that happens, you're stuck with sciatica, which is the inflammation of your sciatic nerve.

Herniated discs, pregnancy, poor posture, and obesity can all contribute to sciatica. If possible, identifying the source of your sciatica can help determine which treatments are right for you. For example, if you rupture a disc in your spine playing a contact sport, you may need to address the slipped disc to get relief from sciatica.

Physical therapy

Instead of jumping straight into surgery, try physical therapy. At International Spine, Pain & Performance Center, our team of physical therapists can create a customized exercise regimen to target the underlying causes of your sciatica. 

You can alleviate pressure on your sciatic nerve through targeted stretches and strengthening exercises — including at-home exercises.

Exercise is just one part of physical therapy. Your International Spine, Pain & Performance Center therapist may also include treatments such as massage, TENS therapy, or hydrotherapy in your treatment plan.

Chiropractic care

Chiropractic adjustments may offer relief by realigning your spine and pelvis, which can help reduce the compression on your sciatic nerve.

Dietary changes

What you eat can also help you manage your sciatica by reducing inflammation and promoting nerve health. Focus on anti-inflammatory foods like berries, broccoli, peppers, fatty fish, and green tea. Spices like turmeric and ginger can also add an anti-inflammatory punch to your foods.

Not sure where to start? The International Spine, Pain & Performance Center team can tailor a custom nutritional plan for you.

Pain management 

While medication won't cure your sciatica, it can help manage the pain while you explore other treatment options. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), muscle relaxants, and nerve pain medications may provide temporary relief, which then allows you to pursue non-surgical interventions without constant agony.

In addition to pain management, the International Spine, Pain & Performance Center team also provides interventional pain management, such as radiofrequency ablation. Radiofrequency ablation is a non-surgical, minimally invasive procedure that uses sound waves to treat sciatica pain by targeting and interrupting pain signals sent to the brain.

Lifestyle modifications

Sometimes, simple changes to your daily routine can make a world of difference. This includes:

Another tip: don’t drive with your wallet in your back pocket! If you’re on a long drive, stop for frequent stretching breaks.

Quit smoking

Smoking can increase your risk of back pain, so if you currently smoke, consider smoking cessation for the sake of your back (and your overall health!). Check out the Commonwealth of Virginia’s resources for quitting, or talk to us!

Maintain a healthy weight

Maintaining a healthy weight can reduce inflammation and pressure on your sciatic nerve. Losing even just a little bit of weight can go a long way in improving your sciatica symptoms. 

Get help for your sciatica

If your sciatica symptoms interfere with your quality of life, you don't necessarily need surgery. Call the location of your choice to explore your non-surgical treatment options. You can also use our online form to request a consultation today.

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