Drugs, Medications, and Spinal Injections to Relieve Sciatica

Your doctor may prescribe certain medications or spinal injections to treat your sciatica. The type of non-surgical sciatica treatment recommended depends on the cause of your sciatica, pain severity and outcome of other therapies you've tried.

  • Epidural Steroid Injections: Steroids, which reduce inflammation, can help ease your sciatic pain. With an epidural steroid injection, you get a corticosteroid medicine injected near the spinal nerve roots. These injections can reduce pain for months and sometimes longer. However, epidural steroid injections aren't effective for all patients.

Patient being given a spinal injectionWith an epidural steroid injection, you get a corticosteroid medicine injected near the spinal nerve roots. Photo Source: 123RF.com.

  • Over-the-counter NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs): These will help reduce swelling while relieving your pain. If an over-the-counter NSAID is an option for you, you and your doctor have plenty to choose from. Your doctor may recommend ibuprofen (Advil) or naproxen (Aleve).
  • Prescription Medications: If you have chronic sciatica, you may need a muscle relaxant to help ease muscle spasms. As surprising as it may seem, one of certain antidepressant drugs may be considered because they may help block pain messages on their way to the brain. They can also help increase your body's production of endorphins—a natural pain killer.

As with any treatment, you must follow your doctor's advice precisely. Never mix over-the-counter and prescribed drugs without consulting your doctor. You should also let your doctor know about all other medications you're taking (and even which vitamins and supplements you take); there could be interactions you want to avoid.

The goal of using medications to address sciatic nerve pain is to provide pain relief. However, medications are not addressing the root cause of your sciatic pain; they aren't healing or curing the spinal condition that is leading to sciatica.  While you're experiencing relief from your sciatica, you may be better able to do physical therapy or exercises that may help address the sciatic nerve compression.

Updated on: 02/27/19
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Physical Therapy to Relieve Sciatica
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Physical Therapy to Relieve Sciatica

Sciatica treatment may include passive and active physical therapies to reduce low back and leg pain. Ultrasound, moist heat and massage are types of passive physical therapy, while active physical therapy involves stretches and exercise.
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