Patients suffering sciatica who do not find relief with self-care are generally prescribed oral medications and physical therapy, according to Mayo Clinic. If the patient does not experience relief within six weeks, surgery is an option. Other patients choose alternative therapy.
According to WebMD, self-care for sciatica includes the use of hot or cold packs, over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications and exercises. Sufferers should avoid prolonged sitting or standing, twisting or bending that sometimes increase the pain.
Mayo Clinic reports that doctors prescribe medications including anti-inflammatories, narcotics and muscle relaxants. Physical therapy usually does not begin until the pain improves. The design of the therapy helps to improve the patient's posture while strengthening his supporting muscles. In some instances, doctors also recommend the use of steroid injections, which help to reduce inflammation surrounding the affected muscles. Surgery is usually a last resort if the pain does not improve. The surgeon removes the bone that is pressing on the nerve to bring pain relief.
Alternative therapy for sciatica includes options such as acupuncture or chiropractic care. According to Mayo Clinic, the results from scientific study of using acupuncture for back pain have conflicting results. Chiropractic care appears to be safe and is as effective as standard medical treatment for lower back pain. It involves manipulation of the spine to restore spinal mobility.