Being the largest nerve in the human body, sciatic pain is not a joke!
While some patients may not respond to non-invasive treatments, your physician may suggest surgery as the best course of action.
Although surgery has its benefits, it has some downsides as well, such as blood clots, infection, and sometimes a longer healing time.
In that case, what are the surgery alternatives to treat sciatica? Do those treatments work? Let’s find out!
Can Sciatica be Cured Permanently without Surgery?
In most cases, I have found that patients respond well to normal medical procedures. There is, however, a great deal of influence on severity, duration before diagnosis, age factor, and lifestyle.
Likewise, the Cleveland Clinic study suggests that around 50 percent of sciatica patients’ symptoms will improve within six weeks of their diagnosis. However, these non-surgical treatments may take longer to recover from.
For treating sciatica, it is best to wait at least two months to see if conservative treatment is working or not before opting for surgery.
So, What are the Surgery Alternatives to Treat Sciatica?
For sciatica, acupuncture, chiropractic treatment, ice and heat therapy, massage therapy, stretches and exercises, and lifestyle changes are considered the best surgery replacement options.
FDA and NIH consider acupuncture an effective treatment for sciatica. It utilizes the body’s energy flow pathways (reported 2500 years ago in China). The traditional Chinese medical system recognizes 200 energy points.
The acupuncturist will place needles in these points, stimulating the central nervous system (CNS). This stimulation of the CNS induces the release of endorphin—an endogenous opioid— that reduces pain.
2. Chiropractic Treatment
Using spinal manipulation, chiropractors restore misaligned spinal disks to their original placement. These spinal adjustments lessen sciatica nerve irritability, muscle spasms, pain, and other symptoms.
3. Ice and Heat Therapy
Combining ice and heat therapy can effectively relieve sciatica pain.
This is because ice therapy restricts blood flow, thereby suppressing inflammation and pain. Therefore, it should be administered during the early phase of sciatica flare-ups.
Contrary to ice therapy, heat therapy increases blood circulation and supplies nutrients, oxygen, and immune cells to the affected areas. However, heat therapy can also cause inflammation. Therefore, the best time to apply this therapy is after the inflammation phase.
- Here is a detailed comparison of how ice and heath therapy works?
4. Massage Therapy
Massaging trigger points also helps generate mobilization to remove muscles spasm and joint stiffness.
Massage therapy releases the piriformis and gluteus maximus muscles, thereby relieving sciatica symptoms.
👉 I have also found that Kinesio tape relieves pressure and relaxes muscles.
5. Certain Stretches and Exercises
Stretches and exercises should be done with extreme precaution because any high-intensity stretch can pinch your sciatic nerve badly.
Normal exercises like walking, yoga, and stretching can help relax the tightened muscles.
Moreover, you can strengthen your core muscles-abdominal, back, and pelvic muscles that will support your back (only with your doctor’s approval).
However, you should listen to your body— don’t overdo it otherwise it can result in an injury like knee pain.
Avoid sprinting, bent-over rowing, hamstring stretches, forward bends, and cycling. ✋
Physical therapy is the first line of action to treat sciatica. But, if symptoms persist, your doctor may recommend you take medications.
The common drugs used to relieve sciatic pain are muscle relaxants, epidural steroidal injections, tricyclic antidepressants, anti-inflammatory drugs, narcotics, and anti-seizure medications.
Steroidal injections are administered directly to the painful area around the sciatic nerve to reduce inflammation and provide quick relief. Treatment typically lasts one week to one year.
When sciatica pain is relieved, the sciatica sufferer may try to begin an exercise or conditioning regimen to prepare for a return of pain later on.
How to Cure Sciatica Permanently at Home
While you are suffering from sciatic pain, nothing should be taken for granted, as I often tell my patients:
“Do you really want to get rid of medicines from your life?”
I see people focusing more on medication and therapies than avoiding the basic mistakes they make in daily life.
Choosing a chair for lower back pain is another underestimated factor. Surprised?
Studies have shown that ergonomic chairs that feature lumbar support are very helpful for sciatica sufferers who spend a lot of time sitting.
As such, I recommend that people suffering from piriformis syndrome examine their daily routines and make productive changes. 🙏
How do you know if you Need Surgery for Sciatica?
When all other options have failed to alleviate the symptoms of sciatica, surgery is generally the last resort. Surgery can provide patients with much-needed pain relief.
Patients should carefully weigh the pros and cons of sciatica surgery before making a decision.
A sciatica surgery may change your life temporarily or permanently since it is not for everyone. In any case, you should consult with your doctor before making a final decision.
Here are some signs that sciatica surgery might be the right option for you:
1. Persistent Pain
The conservative treatments mentioned above may not reduce sciatica symptoms for all individuals, and pain may persist for a long time. If you have these conditions, surgery may be recommended, and you may experience pain relief.
Your lower limbs can be affected by sciatica nerve compression. Numbness and weakness can occur. You may have difficulty standing or walking.
Early surgery might be the best option for you if you are experiencing more pain and immobility.
3. Bladder and Bowel Dysfunction
If you suffer from bladder and bowel problems due to sciatica, you may need immediate medical attention.
Unresolved medical complications may result in sepsis or even kidney damage.
4. Neurological Issues
Sciatica may develop into Cauda Equina Syndrome, characterized by a loss of sensation or numbness in the lower extremities if left untreated.
These conditions require surgical decompression.
How much does sciatica surgery cost, and is it covered by insurance?
Generally, herniated disk surgery costs around $20,000, while laminectomy costs between $50,000 and $100,000. As long as your doctor recommends the surgery, the FDA-approved sciatica treatments are covered by your insurance.
Is it possible that the sciatica symptoms may come back after surgery?
Even after surgery, some sciatica symptoms can recur. A conservative approach may be used with such patients, and additional surgery may be required in some cases.
Through healthy routines and conservative therapies, sciatica often resolves within a few weeks. Exercises and stretches that may improve sciatica may be recommended by your physiotherapist. Alternatively, you can turn to a chiropractor or an acupuncturist for faster recovery.
Often, these alternatives to surgery improve sciatica. Some individuals, however, may benefit from surgery to relieve pain.
Consult your doctor before making a final decision.
Wishing you a speedy and full recovery. ☺️