Sciatica - Medications

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What effective OTC or prescription medications were helpful with your sciatica?

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What are treatment options for sciatica?

Bed rest has been traditionally advocated for the treatment of acute sciatica. But how useful is it?

To study the effectiveness of bed rest in patients with sciatica of sufficient severity to justify treatment with bed rest for two weeks, a research team in the Netherlands led by Dr. Patrick Vroomen randomly assigned 183 such patients to bed rest or, alternatively, to watchful waiting for this period.

To gauge the outcome, both primary and secondary measures were examined. The primary outcome measures were the global assessments of improvement after two and 12 weeks by the doctor and the patient. The secondary outcome measures were changes in functional status and in pain scores, absenteeism from work, and the need for surgical intervention. Neither the doctors who assessed the outcomes nor those involved in data entry and analysis were aware of the patients' treatment assignments.

The results, reported in the New England Journal of Medicine, showed that after two weeks, 64 of the 92 (70%) patients in the bed-rest group reported improvement, as compared with 59 of the 91 (65%) of the patients in the control (watchful-waiting) group. After 12 weeks, 87% of the patients in both groups reported improvement. The results of assessments of the intensity of pain, the aggravation of symptoms, and functional status revealed no significant differences between the two groups. The extent of absenteeism from work and rates of surgical intervention were similar in the two groups.

The researchers concluded that "among patients with symptoms and signs of a lumbosacral radicular syndrome, bed rest is not a more effective therapy than watchful waiting." Sometimes, conventional wisdom is not as wise as research!

Other treatment options for sciatica include addressing the underlying cause, medications to relieve pain and inflammation (including oral and injectable cortisone) and relax muscles, and physical therapy. A variety of low back conditioning and stretching exercises are employed to help people recover from sciatica. Surgical procedures can sometimes be required for persisting sciatica that is caused by nerve compression at the lower spine. Sometimes pain management specialists help with chronic sciatica conditions.

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See what others are saying

Comment from: indrajit, 35-44 Male (Patient) Published: December 09

I suffer from sciatic pains for quite long. And it is homeopathy which cures it every time; and hot water bag and gels like Voveran help me to pass through.

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Comment from: Liz, 75 or over Female (Patient) Published: October 08

I had severe pain the length of my left leg. It got painful enough I finally went to the doctor, who diagnosed sciatica and prescribed Tylenol. I got treatments from my physical therapist and my acupuncturist and they both helped a lot. I've continued those treatments and it is definitely improving and I have days when it seems almost cured. Yesterday I helped a friend move, and now know enough to avoid lifting. The pain from lifting yesterday is greatly diminished by just being inactive today, after Tylenol. I did find that Arnica gel helps relieve the pain and now there are homeopathic Arnica pellets that seem to relieve the pain a bit. I had this for months, but it is getting better. I am helped by physical therapist's stretching exercises (gently), an occasional acupuncture treatment, Arnica gel and pellets, and an occasional pain pill. My pain was as bad as any and all of the descriptions from other patients. There is hope.

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