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How Can a Pain Specialist Help Me with My Sciatica?

When it comes to pain, it can be hard to distinguish at first what is a normal type of pain, such as muscle soreness the day after a workout, and what is a cause for concern. Especially if your sciatica symptoms, such as numbness or pain radiating down one leg, have come on gradually, you may not have looked into treatment yet because you didn’t know anything was wrong. Fortunately, you’re here now, and we are here to help you learn more about how a pain specialist can help with your sciatica.

In this blog post, we will go over what sciatica is, what treatments are available for sciatica, and how a pain specialist can help with your sciatica.

What is Sciatica?

Sciatica is a common form of acute pain that can be both debilitating and frustrating. It is usually caused either by some sort of compression or injury along the course of the nerve or injury or inflammation of the nerve roots that are connected to the sciatic nerve. Some people may be able to pinpoint an exact moment that they knew an injury had occurred and something was wrong. Often, though, the symptoms of sciatica will gradually come to the surface without any clear starting point.

Graphic of the lumbar spine showing where sciatica pain can radiate

Symptoms can range from a mild ache to a sharp stabbing or burning sensation that radiates along the sciatic nerve. This type of pain may be primarily located in the back, but it often radiates down one or both legs. Because the causes are usually injurious or degenerative, this pain often gets worse over time without medical intervention.

Whether your symptoms include leg pain or not, severe sciatica pain and numbness can cause difficulty performing daily activities, including walking and doing household chores. This disruption in daily life can be overwhelming, compounding the distress of any physical symptoms. It’s important to find a treatment plan that works for you as soon as possible so you can maintain or regain your preferred lifestyle.

What Treatments are Available for Sciatica?

While sciatica is a common ailment, it can take time to figure out exactly what treatment will work best for you. Some people are able to effectively manage their pain with the least invasive treatment options available, such as physical therapy. Others may require their own unique blend of physical therapy, acupuncture, and medication to achieve their desired lifestyle. Working with a knowledgeable pain specialist is a great way to fast track your pain management and figure out which of these treatment options will be best for you.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy is one of the most commonly prescribed treatments for sciatica. A physical therapist will assess your condition and develop an individualized program that includes exercises to help reduce inflammation and alleviate pain. These exercises can also help you build muscles over time that will support your spine and other joints, thus reducing strain on the sciatic nerve that could increase your pain. The physical therapist may also use manual therapy techniques, such as massage or cupping, to help relieve your pain.

For physical therapy to be as effective as possible, it’s important to share your goals with your physical therapist and be honest with them about what you will be able to maintain. For example, if you will only be able to complete about three exercises per day, they can help you prioritize the ones that will have the most impact on your condition.

Anti-Inflammatory Medication

Another popular treatment option is to use a form of anti-inflammatory medication to reduce symptoms. This option can be a convenient and relatively affordable treatment option to add to your regular routine. Usually, these prescriptions will be in 30-90 day increments and may require that you get bloodwork done to ensure they are not having an adverse effect on your liver, as many non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications can damage the liver when used frequently or combined with alcohol. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication is available in a wide variety of types, so it’s worthwhile to continue trying different kinds if the first one you are prescribed doesn’t work well for you. Generics of many non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications are also available, making this a relatively affordable option for pain treatment.

Epidural Steroid Injections

While this treatment is a bit more invasive than the two previously listed, it is still a great minimally invasive treatment that has proven results. This treatment often provides longer-lasting relief than other options, with some people experiencing symptom relief for up to twelve months after receiving an epidural steroid injection This type of joint injection can improve symptoms by releasing anti-inflammatory medication slowly into the joint or by adding lubricant to the joint. Side effects are extremely rare, which, combined with the longer-lasting effectiveness, makes this a popular treatment option for many patients.

Muscle Relaxants

Muscle relaxants are another popular form of treatment for sciatica. These types of medications are helpful for relieving pain caused by conditions like sciatica, especially for those who experience muscle spasms as one of their symptoms. Most muscle relaxers work through muscle cells, nerve cells, or the central nervous system to relax skeletal muscles to reduce painful spasms and contractions. While they are effective at what they do, muscle relaxants have a long list of side effects, so it’s important to try each one at a low dose to check for any possible adverse effects before taking a larger dose. One of the most common side effects of muscle relaxants is drowsiness, so for many patients, this treatment should be reserved for evenings or days when they will be able to take a nap if needed.


An alternative treatment with dramatically fewer potential side effects is acupuncture. In the practice of acupuncture, thin needles are inserted into various points on the body to stimulate the body’s own healing energy and bring relief to the affected areas. Scientific studies have shown that acupuncture is effective in reducing pain in patients with sciatica. It can also help to reduce swelling and inflammation, improve circulation, and promote relaxation. Acupuncture is a safe and natural way to treat sciatica and is often used in combination with other alternative medicine and western medicine treatments for symptom relief.

Ice and Heat

Another treatment option that anyone can do is apply ice and/or heat to the affected areas of the body. While it won’t have the same long-term effects as treatments provided by a healthcare professional, it can be an effective treatment for short-term symptom relief or in combination with treatments like physical therapy. Many patients like to keep heat pads in places they sit frequently, such as at their desk at work or on their couch at home, and keep a rotating supply of ice packs in the freezer for them to use as needed.

Massage Therapy

Massage therapy is also a valuable treatment to help with symptom relief. While it will not usually address the direct cause of sciatica, whether it’s an injury or inflammation, massage therapy can help relieve associated pain that could be caused by muscle tension or spasms. Because excess muscle tension often occurs as a result of being in pain, which is a stressful experience in and of itself, this is a common way that additional pain can be relieved to reduce the overall symptoms of the patient. Massage therapy can help relieve symptoms on its own but is most effective when combined with other forms of treatment.

How Can a Pain Specialist Help with My Sciatica?

A pain specialist for sciatica can help treat the condition in many different ways. One of the most important is that a pain specialist can help you manage multiple forms of care and prioritize them according to how effective and invasive they are. A pain specialist will be able to tell you if certain medications may interact with each other and if specific treatments you are considering don’t work well together. This can help you avoid wasting time on treatments that won’t be effective and putting yourself in danger by combining medications that have negative interactions.

In addition, pain specialists often work together at clinics that specialize in similar disorders that can cause chronic pain. Because of this, you can avoid the expense of driving back and forth to multiple healthcare centers each week or month to access different kinds of treatment for your sciatica. Instead, with a pain specialist, you can pursue multiple treatment options all under one roof!

If you are looking for convenient and effective sciatica treatment, look no further – there’s no need to Google search “sciatica pain specialist near me.” Our team will be happy to assist you at either our San Marcos location or our New Braunsfels location. We understand that sciatica can be a difficult condition to manage, and we are committed to helping you find the best possible treatment plan to get you back to living your life with reduced symptoms and possibly even without the experience of daily pain. Our team of pain specialists is experienced in treating sciatica and will work with you to develop a personalized plan of care that addresses your individual needs and goals.

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