Treatment for a pinched sciatic nerve, commonly known as sciatica, is focused on the underlying condition causing the nerve pain, as stated by Spine-health. Individuals can relieve sciatic pain by performing sciatica exercises, applying heat or ice, or taking painkillers.
For most cases of sciatica, a physical therapist, physiatrist or chiropractor creates a controlled exercise program for the patient based on the underlying cause, notes Spine-health. Movement and exercise is generally more effective than bed rest in relieving pain because it conditions the spinal structures and back muscles to support the back. Applying heat or ice for approximately 20 minutes every two hours may help alleviate acute sciatic pain, and individuals can also take prescription or over-the-counter medications, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or oral steroids, for relief.
Most cases of sciatica get better within several weeks or months with non-surgical treatment, but patients with severe pain that does not improve within six to 12 weeks may consider lower back surgery, according to Spine-health. If the sciatic pain is caused by a lumbar disc herniation, the doctor may consider a microdiscectomy to remove the piece of disc pinching the nerve. This surgery effectively relieves sciatic pain 90 to 95 percent of the time. If the pain results from lumbar spinal stenosis, the doctor may recommend a lumbar laminectomy, a procedure that is 70 to 80 percent effective in relieving pain.