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Medications for Sciatic Pain

Kymberly has managed many chronic illnesses for 25+ years, including sciatica, costochondritis, fibromyalgia, PTSD, endometriosis, and more.

Sciatica pain medications

Sciatica pain medications

Sciatica Pain Relief Medication

As with most back pain, doctors are often reluctant to prescribe medications to treat sciatica. Studies of sciatic patients have had mixed results, with no one medication clearly helping more than another.[1]

On the other hand, research has repeatedly found that back pain (including sciatica) responds well to physical therapy and self-care. Bed rest is often avoided, as it has been shown to have no effect above normal activity.[2,3,10]

Strong pain medication tablets

Strong pain medication tablets

What Is Sciatica?

The sciatic nerve runs from the spine and lower back, through the hip and buttock area, down the thighs and ends in the feet.

Sciatic pain is caused by compression of the sciatic nerve root in the lumbar spine region or inflammation around the region where it branches from the spine.

Spiking or aching pain, numbness and tingling can be felt anywhere along the nerve, even though it is most commonly irritated in the lower back.

Finding the Cause of the Pain

It is important that the underlying cause of sciatica be found, as treatment can differ.

Ask your doctor to search for an underlying cause. If they don't listen to you, find another doctor if you can. Your pain should be taken seriously!

Personal Experience

I have had sciatica from inflammation of the soft tissues for over 20 years.

From my early teens, it would flare up regularly and make it impossible for me to sit for long periods or exercise without debilitating pain. Doctors found only soft-tissue inflammation caused by poor carrying and lifting posture.

For me, anti-inflammatory medications were useful to treat acute pain at the beginning of a sciatic flare and hide the longer-term pain without fixing the problem. But these medications caused long-term kidney damage.

When they discovered my damaged kidneys, I was taken off all anti-inflammatory medications—I had to seek other solutions.

A variety of natural methods and lifestyle changes has helped me to control and nearly eliminate my sciatica.

Most recently, doctors discovered I have spondyloarthritis and have had it for decades. They said that this was the cause of the sciatic pain, even when I was a teen.

Causes of Sciatica

  • Slipped or bulging disc
  • Narrowing of the spinal canal (lumbar spinal stenosis)
  • Soft tissue or bone injury near the sciatic nerve
  • Arthritis in the spine (spondyloarthritis)
  • Piriformis syndrome[4] (the sciatic nerve runs through the piriformis muscle instead of underneath)
  • Poor posture caused by a number of reasons (carrying bags on one shoulder, pregnancy, being overweight, regular use of high heels, a soft mattress, etc.)

Medication Options

All of the medications used to 'treat' sciatica aim to reduce pain, and some to reduce inflammation.

These medications reduce the severity of the symptoms, but they do not fix the underlying cause, and they often introduce negative side effects.[5,6,7]

The type of medication should be chosen based on the underlying cause of the pain—please see your doctor and undergo various tests to find the cause!

All of these medications can react badly with alcohol and other medications.

Always read instructions carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

Sciatica Medications at a Glance

MedicationTreats SymptomsCommon Side Effects


inflammation, pain

stomach, digestion, heart, liver, kidney, skin, dizziness

NSAIDs (injection / intravenous)

inflammation, pain

stomach++, digestion++, heart, liver, kidney++, skin++, dizziness, drowsiness and more

COX-2 inhibitors (NSAID)

inflammation, pain

heart++, liver, kidney, skin, dizziness

Aspirin (NSAID)

inflammation, pain

stomach, kidney, anemia, tinnitis



stomach, kidney, liver

Narcotics (opiates / opioids)


digestion, immune system, skin, drowsiness, addiction, tolerance



stomach, digestion, skin, drowsiness, dependance



stomach, kidney, digestion, drowsiness, dizziness

Muscle relaxants


stomach, skin, drowsiness, dizziness, addiction, dependence, tolerance

Gabapentin (anti-convulsant)


skin, drowsiness, dizziness, weight gain, dependence

Corticosteroid epidural injection

inflammation, pain

low blood pressure, drowsiness, dizziness, muscle weakness

Note: I have used the chemical compound names throughout this article. The same medications are sold with so many different trade names around the world. Please check your medication packet to see what actual ingredients it contains.

Medications in Detail

In this section, we will take a closer look at the various medications that are used to treat sciatica pain. We will also learn about possible side effects that are associated with long-term use. These are the medications I will address:

  • NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications)
  • Intravenous or injected NSAIDs
  • COX-2 inhibitors (NSAID)
  • Aspirin (NSAID)
  • Acetominophen (paracetamol)
  • Narcotics (opiates and opioids)
  • Tramadol
  • Antidepressants
  • Muscle relaxants
  • Gabapentin (anti-convulsant)
  • Corticosteroid epidural injections (only used for severe cases caused by spinal problems)
NSAIDs - chemical structure: ibuprofen, naproxen, diclofenac, cyclobenzaprine, nabumetone, indomethacin, ketoprofen, tolmetin, flurbiprofen, meloxicam, phenylbutazone

NSAIDs - chemical structure: ibuprofen, naproxen, diclofenac, cyclobenzaprine, nabumetone, indomethacin, ketoprofen, tolmetin, flurbiprofen, meloxicam, phenylbutazone


Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are most commonly prescribed for short-term treatment of sciatic pain and are the first prescription choice of most doctors.[5]

Ibuprofen and aspirin are both recommended because they have the fewest and least severe side effects, although many others are prescribed for short-term treatment.

NSAIDs work by reducing the inflammation in soft tissue, reducing the pressure on the sciatic nerve, and providing some pain relief.

Traditional NSAIDs Used to Treat Sciatica

ibuprofen, naproxen, diclofenac, cyclobenzaprine, nabumetone, indomethacin, ketoprofen, tolmetin, flurbiprofen, meloxicam, phenylbutazone.

Diclofenac may be recommended for topical application (Voltaren) to treat sciatic, lower back, hip, buttock and leg pain, caused by muscle inflammation.


IBS or stomach ulcer patients, people with kidney damage or reduced kidney function, should not use any NSAIDs.

Asthma or high-blood pressure sufferers should speak to their doctor before taking NSAIDs.

Effectiveness and Risks

Although these are effective in the short term against acute sciatica, all NSAIDs have side effects, some potentially quite severe in the longer term.[1,7,8]

  • Long-term use raises the risk of heart attacks.
  • They are one of the most common causes of stomach ulcers and bleeding throughout the digestive system. They often cause nausea and reflux, which is why you should never have any NSAID on an empty stomach.
  • Used short-term, they decrease kidney function, and long-term use results in irreparable liver and kidney damage.
  • NSAIDs may cause diarrhea or constipation.
  • Some people find their skin bruises or rashes, or their extremities may swell (fluid retention).
  • Headaches, dizziness and high blood pressure are also common side effects.
An uncoated ibuprofen tablet

An uncoated ibuprofen tablet

Injected/Intravenous NSAIDs

Some NSAIDs, can be injected into the sciatic region, or given to patients intravenously (via an IV drip), to provide fast acting, short term relief from the pain and inflammation.

NSAID injections are typically used in acute and extremely painful cases, especially when walking and lack of muscle control is a problem.

Ketorolac or meloxicam can be injected or given intravenously in hospitals, and may be given as follow-up tablets to reduce for severe inflammation and pain. Treatment is usually limited to five days.[7]


Patients with high blood pressure, heart problems, or kidney problems should not be given injected or intravenous NSAIDs.

In most countries, NSAID injections are only provided by hospitals, under observation, because of the high risk of severe side effects, which increase with longer-term use.

Effectiveness and Risks

In addition to all of the usual side effects caused by tablet-form NSAIDs, injected or intravenous NSAIDs can many serious complications:

  • Water retention and severe swelling is common, as are skin rashes. Severe bruising is also possible. Asthma patients may find fluid builds up in the lungs.
  • Many people have reported hallucinations, tremors and convulsions.
  • Stomach and digestion problems can be more severe than with tablet NSAIDs, with broken walls (perforation) and intestinal bleeding reported.
  • Kidneys are damaged more quickly and more severely than with other NSAIDs, with kidney failure being the worst case.

COX-2 Inhibitors: NSAID

Celecoxib (Celebrex), closely related to traditional NSAIDs, is occasionally used to treat sciatic pain caused by arthritis, avoiding the normal gastric effects caused by standard NSAIDs.

However, its use is controversial after other coxibs were withdrawn due to heart health risks (rofecoxib - Vioxx, valdecoxib - Bextra).

In addition to all of the side effects of normal NSAIDs (apart from the stomach ulceration/bleeding), like other coxibs, celecoxib has a much higher risk of heart attacks and strokes.[8]

Personally, I had no improvement in my sciatic symptoms when taking celecoxib.

Did You Know?

Willow bark, containing salicylic acid, was recorded as a medicinal plant in ancient Sumer (approximately 2000 BC). The first recorded use specifically against pain was in ancient Egypt in 1543 BC.

Acetylsalicylic acid (later named aspirin) was first produced in a laboratory in 1853 by French chemist Charles Frédéric Gerhardt.

Aspirin: NSAID

Aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid) is made from one of the oldest pain-relieving compounds discovered—willow bark, containing salicylic acid.[9]

Aspirin is in a different class of NSAIDs with both mild pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties.

Aspirin works by limiting the transmission of pain signals, reducing inflammation and improving blood flow by thinning the blood.


This milder medication has fewer side effects, usually occurring with long term or heavy use.

  • As with other NSAIDs, you can have stomach problems - nausea, ulcers.
  • Aspirin does reduce kidney function with short term use.
  • Large doses have been reported to cause anemia and tinnitus.
Acetaminophen (paracetamol) capsules

Acetaminophen (paracetamol) capsules


Paracetamol (acetaminophen) is one of the most common and safest medications used against mild pain.

Many doctors prefer prescribing acetaminophen first as a treatment for sciatica before using NSAIDs, which have more side effects.[1,10]

It doesn't significantly reduce inflammation and is therefore not considered an NSAID. It is also much safer than NSAIDs for patients with kidney problems.

It is often combined with other pain relievers and anti-inflammatory agents, especially codeine and ibuprofen.

Acetaminophen carries side effects only with long-term use or overdose—with kidney, liver[15] and stomach damage being possible.

Even though it is the safest of the pain medications, acetaminophen usually doesn't provide enough pain relief for sciatica sufferers.


Produced by the opium poppy, both opiates and opioids are used to lessen chronic and severe sciatic pain.[1,5,6,11]

  • Opiates - codeine and morphine
  • Opioids - oxycodone, hydrocodone, oxymorphone

These narcotics work by decreasing how pain is perceived in the brain, at the same time as increasing the body's pain tolerance. However, they do not reduce inflammation.

Codeine is often combined with other medications, such as acetaminophen, aspirin or ibuprofen.

This medication can be addicting, as it can produce a feeling of euphoria. and is therefore restricted in many countries. They may not be available over the counter, or without a prescription.[9]


Morphine should be avoided if you have kidney problems.


There are a large number of risks and common side effects:

  • These medications often cause nausea and vomiting, and constipation.
  • With long term use, the immune system is compromised, leaving you more vulnerable to bacteria and virus infections.
  • Itchy skin is oft reported, as is drowsiness, headaches and depression.
  • The high (euphoria) is addictive, and it is easy for your body to become tolerant - needing a higher dosage to treat the same pain. The withdrawal effects after long term or heavy use are severe.
The very similar chemical structure of narcotics used to treat more severe sciatica cases: codeine, morphine, oxycodone, hydrocodone, oxymorphone

The very similar chemical structure of narcotics used to treat more severe sciatica cases: codeine, morphine, oxycodone, hydrocodone, oxymorphone

Sleepless for Days

I took tramadol once for less than one week. Although it masked all pain, it also stopped me from sleeping.

After 72 hours without sleep, with its associated dizziness, nausea and anxiety, the doctors advised me to stop taking it.


Originally developed as an alternative to opioids, tramadol can fight pain without the severe stomach and gastric problems that NSAIDs cause. Still many patients report some similar side effects.

Often prescribed to treat arthritis pain and fibromyalgia, tramadol blocks sciatic pain in a way similar to an opioid, but without depressing the immune system.[1]

Restricted in many countries, tramadol may not be available over the counter or without a prescription.


There are a number of side effects commonly seen when taking tramadol:

  • Nausea, vomiting and constipation are possible.
  • Skin can become extremely itchy.
  • Seizures are possible, especially in susceptible people.
  • It does cause drowsiness.
  • The body becomes dependent (but not addicted or tolerant), and severe withdrawal symptoms are possible if the medication is stopped abruptly.
Tramadol's complex chemical structure

Tramadol's complex chemical structure


Tricyclic antidepressants, such as amitriptyline or nortriptyline, were initially shown to have a positive effect on chronic pain in patients who are not depressed, especially with long term neuropathic (nerve) pain, even though they have many negative side effects.[1,7]

Personally, I had no improvement in any pain (sciatic, fibromyalgia, and other illnesses) when taking any of 4 different types of anti-depressants.


More recent studies have questioned the effectiveness, especially when the number of negative side effects are taken into account.

  • Nausea, vomiting and constipation are very common.
  • There may be difficulty urinating, putting strain on the kidneys.
  • Drowsiness, confusion, anxiety and memory/thinking problems are also fairly common.
  • Some patients experience dizziness and blurred vision.
  • There are usually withdrawal symptoms if the medication is stopped abruptly.

Chemical structure of amitriptlyine.

Chemical structure of amitriptlyine.

Chemical structures of common muscle relaxants, used to reduce the symptoms of sciatica: cyclobenzaprine, diazepam, carisoprodol and methocarbamol

Chemical structures of common muscle relaxants, used to reduce the symptoms of sciatica: cyclobenzaprine, diazepam, carisoprodol and methocarbamol

Muscle Relaxants

Cyclobenzaprine, diazepam, carisoprodol and methocarbamol may be prescribed to relieve pain and relax muscles when no cause for sciatic pain can be found, even though studies have been inconclusive.[1,5,12]

The side effects of drowsiness and addiction outweigh the slight pain-relieving benefits received. There is also the risk of becoming addicted to the relaxed feeling provided, dependent on medication to sleep, plus these medications so lose effectiveness with longer-term use.


Muscle relaxants should be avoided by people with liver and kidney disorders, as well as by those who suffer depression.


  • Nausea and vomiting are common side effects.
  • Some patients have reported severe itching.
  • These commonly cause dizziness, headaches, fever, poor coordination and balance problems.
  • Drowsiness and depression are also common.
  • Muscle relaxants are addictive, with users seeking the euphoric feeling (high). Patients become dependent on them for sleep, and increasingly higher doses are required with longer term use (tolerance). There are withdrawal effects if the medication is stopped abruptly.
Gabapentin capsules

Gabapentin capsules

Gabapentin: Anticonvulsant

Originally an anti-epileptic medication, gabapentin, taken in low doses, is being trialled in chronic pain patients, especially in neuropathic (nerve) pain, fibromyalgia and as a short-term treatment for sciatica.[1,7,13]

Pregabalin, another anti-convulsant, may also be given for sciatic pain.

Gabapentin and pregabalin work by blocking or reducing the pain messages received in the brain.

Personally, I have taken gabapentin for about 10 years, at a reasonably low dose, to manage fibromyalgia pain. It does help with the background pain, but not usually with sharp, spiking, sciatic pain.

There are a number of side effects of taking gabapentin and pregabalin.[7]

  • Fluid retention and skin swelling is common.
  • Drowsiness and mood disorders are also fairly common.
  • Patients often report dizziness and loss of co-ordination (me!)
  • Weight gain is a problem with long term use.
  • The body does become dependent on gabapentin - you do notice if you miss a regular dose. There are quite painful withdrawal symptoms if you stop the medication abruptly.

Chemical structure of gabapentin.

Chemical structure of gabapentin.

Chemical structure of corticosteroids.

Chemical structure of corticosteroids.

Corticosteroid Epidural Injections

Corticosteroids with a small amount of anesthetic may be injected close to the compressed and irritated sciatic nerve to reduce inflammation.

Prednisolone, methylprednisolone or dexamethosone may be prescribed as injections to treat acute and severe sciatic cases or when spondyloarthritis is heavily localized in one or two spinal 'joints'.

Epidurals are normally only considered in extreme cases of sciatica caused by spinal damage. They provide short-term pain relief and are only recommended for 1-2 months of treatment.[7,14]


There are a number of risks and side effects of such injections.

  • Low blood pressure and dizziness can result.
  • Drowsiness, depression and blurred vision can occur for a short period after the injection.
  • Muscles around the injection site can become weak, numb and lose function.
  • It is also relatively common for there to be no pain relief at all![1]


  1. Medications for acute and chronic low back pain: a review of the evidence for an APS / ACP clinical practice guideline, R. Chou,, Annals of Internal Medicine, 2007, 147(7):505-514
  2. Guideline update: what's the best approach to acute low back pain? S.M. Bach and K.B. Holten, Journal of family practice, December 2009, 58(12):E1
  3. Lack of Effectiveness of Bed Rest for Sciatica, C.A.J. Patrick,, New England Journal of Medicine, 1999, 340:418- 423
  4. Piriformis syndrome: implications of anatomical variations, diagnostic techniques, and treatment options, L. Cassidy,, Surgical and Radiologic Anatomy, February 2012 (PubMed ahead of publication)
  5. Medication use for low back pain in primary care, D.C. Cherkin,, Spine, March 1998, 23(5):607-14
  6. Patients' own accounts of sciatica: a qualitative study, B.N. Ong,, Spine, July 2011, 36(15):1251-6
  7. Drugs for relief of pain in patients with sciatica: systematic review and meta-analysis, R.Z. Pinto,, BMJ (Clinical Research), February 2012, 344:e497
  8. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for low back pain: an updated Cochrane review, P.D. Roelofs,, Spine, July 2008, 33(16):1766-74
  9. Anti-inflammatory effects of the willow bark extract STW 33-I (Proaktiv(®)) in LPS-activated human monocytes and differentiated macrophages, G.A. Bonaterra,, Journal of Phytomedicine, December 2010, 17(14):1106-13
  10. An updated overview of clinical guidelines for the management of non-specific low back pain in primary care, B.W. Koes,, European Spine Journal, December 2010, 19(12): 2075–2094
  11. Systematic review: opioid treatment for chronic back pain: prevalence, efficacy, and association with addiction, B.A. Martell,, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 2008, (1):CD001703
  12. Is there a role for benzodiazepines in the management of lumbar disc prolapse with acute sciatica? Brötz D,, Pain, June 2010, 149(3):470-5
  13. Anticonvulsant drugs for acute and chronic pain, P. Wiffen,, Cochrane database of systematic reviews, 2005, (3):CD001133
  14. Comparison of Epidural Steroid Injections with conservative management in patients with lumbar radiculopathy, N. Laiq,, Journal of the College of Physicians and Surgeons - Pakistan, September 2009, 19(9):539-43
  15. Does therapeutic use of acetominophen cause acute liver failure? A.C. Dart,, Pharmacotherapy, September 2007, 9:1219-30

Final thoughts

The most important thing is to find the underlying cause of the sciatic pain.

Only then you can choose a medication and treatment plan that will address the cause, and not mask the symptoms.


Which medications have helped your sciatica? What side effects did you experience from these medications? Let us know in the comments below!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.


mrs wendy cook on August 25, 2017:

i have suffered many years with sciatica. I have found gabapentin cocodamol and amitriptilyne taken together have helped me to cope with the pain. but when a have really bad flare ups I take an anti inflamatery until it calms down. also good stretching excercises help.

Adam V on July 05, 2017:

I get sciatica flare ups and I tried meds and some Physical Therapy. My next move will be to use in inversion table as it is said to have a great effect decompressing the spine. In the meantime, I have to suck it up and work with pain..

Joe Cseko jr on December 19, 2016:

This is an excellent article. I say this because you differentiate between anecdotal and clinical evidence. Also, the citations add a great deal of validity to your article.

As someone who writes about a lot of science, and sees others doing so very poorly, this is a breath of fresh air.

Darla Smith on August 25, 2016:

I use Salonpas a pain relieving patch that has camphor, menthol & methyl salicyate a topical analgesic for the temporary relief of mild pain. I try not to use pills for pain due to all the warnings associated with taking them. After having sciatic nerve pain for over 10 years I found the best way to deal with it is to prevent flair up from happening in the first place. Do as much research on the condition as you possibly can along with physical therapy & herbal supplements that help with inflammation. " An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."

ValKaras on February 29, 2016:

When I had my single life experience of sciatica I got busy searching for the possible cause. Being a self-improvement freak with a long studious history, I quickly recognized the cause, which got confirmed in many other cases of other people, including those with a lower back pain. In my own case, I was trapped in a family situation at a long visit which made me angry, without a possible outlet for that anger. Later I noticed at all other sufferers that they had some imprisoned negative energies which caused that muscle spasm in the area of the sciatic nerve pinching it.

I still have to see a person with a flexible, adaptable, happy mentality that could get something like a sciatic or lower back pain. I am prone to believe that even a herniated disc is a result from these muscle spasms which deform spine with their chronic nature.

Kymberly Fergusson (author) from Germany on October 28, 2014:

I received a comment from William, who has had sciatica for 4 months, but unfortunately, I can't publish it as it contains an email address. William asked for information about anti-TNF injections as a treatment. (I hadn't heard of these before!)

From my research, anti-TNF medications are typically used for treating rheumatoid arthritis. They reduce the inflammatory response by suppressing the immune system.

Some anti-TNF medications, etanercept, infliximab and adalimumab, have been tested for sciatica in small groups, and have had good results, although some found they don't work better than a placebo for sciatica from disc herniation.

Unfortunately, these medications have not been approved by the FDA for sciatica as there are not enough, large, random scientific studies, *yet*.

Perhaps some doctors are willing to try this as an 'off label' treatment, or there are active research groups at a university hospital for this treatment in your area.

Some natural anti-TNF sources that you can incorporate into your diet include turmeric, green tea, and possibly echinacea.

Kymberly Fergusson (author) from Germany on January 05, 2014:

Hi Kim,

A herniated disc or other physical problems within the spine *should* show up on scans, and should be ruled out before trying any of the more physical therapies. If it has been ruled out, then the nerve has probably been pinched further down, through the soft tissue.

Piriformis stretches and hip mobility exercises can relieve a lot of sciatic pain quickly (my problems are mostly piriformis- and inflammation-related). Try both hot and cold packs, and continue to use whichever works best. Massage may be too painful, but can relax cramped muscles that have impinged the sciatic nerve. Voltaren or ibuprofen gels, sports rubs or other menthol based oils can help relieve local pain. Don't stay in one position for long -- keep moving, albeit gently.

Let me know what works best, and good luck!


Kim on January 04, 2014:

My husband is currently experience a severe bout of sciatica. We don't believe it is caused from a herniated disc because the pain begins in the buttocks. He's unable to walk, stand, and is only able to find a bit of relief when laying down. We've been to ER twice. The medicine isn't working. We're not sure what to do. This has been going on since last Tuesday.

Kymberly Fergusson (author) from Germany on August 14, 2013:

Thanks Ron! I hope your friend finds this useful!

One of my friends had scoffed at sciatic pain, but he has recently done his back (while vacuuming!) The lesser anti-inflammatories have helped ease him into the physical therapies that will prevent it from happening again.

Kymberly Fergusson (author) from Germany on August 14, 2013:

Cdcseven - I hope the pain management docs have been able to help you! Are you doing any physical therapy in addition to trying to manage the pain with medications?

Ron Mariano from Orange County, CA on May 31, 2013:

My friend suffers from Sciatica, back pain from time to time. I'll make sure to share this with him. Thank you for this great article! Voted up!

Cdcseven on April 14, 2013:

Have severe stenosis which is affecting my left leg. Been in the hospital for pain management for 1 week don't know why I'm going to do about my job and being a single mother. Just wish I could get surgery like I did 2 years ago which I woke up with zero pain. And to get on stronger pain meds I'm on norco10/325 and not helping any longer.

Kymberly Fergusson (author) from Germany on February 15, 2013:

Ayesah - Herniated discs which cause sciatic pain can be tough to deal with, especially in the first several weeks. It's great to hear that you are being pro-active and trying to stretch. Have you checked with your doctor and physical therapist which stretches will be most beneficial for your sciatic pain, that won't worsen your herniated discs? Does applying heat or ice help? Walking (slowly and carefully) will also help the blood keep flowing and encourage healing. Best of luck and speedy healing!

Ayesah on February 14, 2013:

hi! Im in bed for 3 weeks now due to a herniated disc that causes sciatica. I cannot do exercises because of the pain. When the meds kick in for pain, i try to do stretches but pain comes back as if i didn't take any medication. Tough life! :(

Kymberly Fergusson (author) from Germany on October 19, 2012:

Many of the physical therapies, stretching and exercises work better than medications for sciatica for many people (as they treat the cause and not the symptoms). So glad to hear that pilates and rolling has worked for you! Thank you for sharing!

Pam shaw on October 18, 2012:

Yamuna body rolling and Pilates has completely taken all pain away! Excellent self care that is very effective for sciatica pain.

Kymberly Fergusson (author) from Germany on May 15, 2012:

Sebastian - thank you for your feedback! And I've updated the references.

It's hard to find studies on effectiveness vs. side effects, as pain is subjective and every sciatic patient will tolerate medications differently.

Most doctors recommend trying a medication, and if the benefits outweigh the side effects (for that patient), then it's a good choice. However, some medications are still limited by the length of time recommended for use. Doctors and pharmacists prefer that their patients know the side effects/risks before starting on a medication.

I was also diagnosed in the bed-rest age, which was awful for a young/active teen. It is far better now (with better results), with the multidisciplinary approach of movement plus pain relief! I'm glad you also found relief with the 'new' approach!

Sebastian Tyrrell on May 14, 2012:

Well structured and informative hub: maybe a bit heavy on the adverse reactions, it would be nice to see some studies on effectiveness to balance it! A bit of a pity that you gave up on the references after the first two paragraphs - it isn't possible to see where the adverse reactions reports came from.

Myself, I was diagnosed with sciatica in my 20s when the usual advice was "lots of bed rest". About 15 years ago that changed to "take two paracetamol and get some exercise, plus remember to do your stretches." Way better (though to be fair there are probably other factors - as you get older you can afford a better bed and better chairs!)

Kymberly Fergusson (author) from Germany on May 13, 2012:

Thank you Digby! I know heat certainly helps me, and I'm happy it can help others!

Kymberly Fergusson (author) from Germany on May 13, 2012:

Thanks Green Lotus! I'm glad you found stretching and other physical therapies helpful - they have certainly worked the best for me!

DigbyAdams on May 11, 2012:

Sticking a heat patch on the muscle that is prone to spasm really helps as well.

Hillary from Atlanta, GA on May 11, 2012:

Thanks for a very complete and well researched Hub! I have had sciatica and finally found my "cure" by going to stretch classes and by doing Body Rolling with my Yamuna Body Rolling balls.

Kymberly Fergusson (author) from Germany on May 11, 2012:

Digby - I'm glad you've found a medication that works for you, and that you also have found physical therapy, exercise and stretching useful. Have you found anything else that helps with muscle spasms (diet / specific exercises / other treatments)?

DigbyAdams on May 11, 2012:

I don't have sciatica but I am prone to muscle spsasms and the only thing that gets me moving again is 3 or 4 days on muscle relaxants. If I don't take them an episode can stretch to weeks. I've not found them addicting and they help me work with a physical therapist much more quickly to minimize any loss of muscle strength and flexibility.

Kymberly Fergusson (author) from Germany on May 11, 2012:

Marlene - Thank you so much!

I don't believe anyone can be a 'baby' when it comes to pain - pain is real, and everyone feels it at different levels. Some have a high pain tolerance, some low. But it doesn't change the fact that they feel pain!

Kymberly Fergusson (author) from Germany on May 11, 2012:

bridalletter - a nasty fall can easily cause sciatica, I'm sorry that yours has become so bad! Did you damage your spine, or is it from soft-tissue damage?

I've never met anyone else with the same reaction as I had to Tramadol - I suspect it was an intolerance/allergic reaction.

I hope the information was helpful!

Kymberly Fergusson (author) from Germany on May 11, 2012:

Simone - sciatica can be very limiting, and can narrow a person's focus down to just the pain (which I think is the worst outcome -- losing sight of everything else is not a good thing!) Plus many doctors don't treat it appropriately, or explain the medications' side effects to patients. I'm happy my experience can help people!

Kymberly Fergusson (author) from Germany on May 11, 2012:

Kalli - you are right - NSAIDs are so aggressive - stomach, digestion, kidneys can all become irreparably damaged. I'm so glad you've recovered with yoga - it is one of the better methods to prevent sciatica!

Marlene Bertrand from USA on May 10, 2012:

I am such a baby when it comes to pain. I am so sorry you have had to deal with this for so long. Your hub, addressing this issue is so thorough that anyone seeking information about this problem should start reading here. You explain it all so well. Excellently formatted, as well, for ease of reading.

Brenda Kyle from Blue Springs, Missouri, USA on May 10, 2012:

You are truly a gift to people with this problem. Mine began 2 years ago when I fell on the left side of my butt. I use apirin when the pain shoots my blood pressure up high (hyperthyroidism) and feel it taks some inflammation out. Tramadol I like the best and have not noticed that lack of sleep in myself. The flector patch worked great for pain in my side, now replaced with a cream - similar to ingredients in the flector patch and more resonable on cost.

My pain gets to a very extreme level and I obtain a steroid shot that usually lasts 3 months at best. I read if it does not go away after 6 weeks, it is chronic. Your info on better ways to manage it are appreciated.

Simone Haruko Smith from San Francisco on May 10, 2012:

Oh my goodness, sciatic pain sounds awful! You've provided such a splendid explanation of the condition and various treatments. It's terrible that you've had to deal with this, but I'm very glad you're sharing your expertise!

Kaili Bisson from Canada on May 10, 2012:

Hi and thank you for sharing the information. I had an experience with sciatica two years ago as a result of not taking care of myself the way I normally do because of things going on in my life at the time...sciatica led to NSAIDS and an ulcer. I got past that and vowed I would never get off my exercise routine again. I am so glad to hear you have found relief from stretching. I highly recommend yoga. Voted up!

Kymberly Fergusson (author) from Germany on May 10, 2012:

Thanks Denise! Luckily, I haven't had too much trouble in the last 10 years, mainly because I worked out the best physical approach (correcting posture, stretching, etc.) The medications I took for sciatica were just temporary patches, just as they mask symptoms for most people - they never fix the underlying problems!

Denise Handlon from North Carolina on May 10, 2012:

Sorry to hear about your sciatica pain all these years. Excellent hub loaded with interesting information. Very thorough. Thanks for sharing. voted up/useful/intereseting

The table is great!