When the inner material in your lumbar disc leaks out, or herniates, it can provoke your sciatica symptoms by aggravating a nearby sciatic nerve root.
You may think you’ve tried every treatment available for your sciatic pain caused by a lumbar herniated disc, but you may not have considered these 3 simple tips:
1. Consider an epidural steroid injection
If your sciatic pain is severe, you may want to consider an epidural steroid injection for relief from your symptoms. These injections provide relief by delivering anti-inflammatory medication directly into the nerve root that is pinched by your disc. It’s important to note that epidural steroid injections don’t work for everyone—but they do provide significant relief for roughly 50 percent of patients.
The purpose of the injection is to provide temporary pain relief (anywhere from 1 week to 1 year) to allow you to participate in a rehabilitative exercise and stretching program—which in turn can provide you with long-term relief from your symptoms.
2. Try mental pain control techniques
Regardless of the severity of your sciatica symptoms, mental pain control techniques may provide you with quick relief. The basic idea behind mental pain control techniques is that you can reduce the severity of your experience of pain by focusing your mind on something else.
For example, for as little as 10 minutes a day you can try the “age regression” mental pain control technique:
- In a dark and quiet room, imagine a time in your life when you were pain-free.
- Next, simply instruct your mind to behave as if the image you conjured were true.
If mental pain control techniques aren’t for you, you may benefit from simply sitting in a quiet room and controlling your breathing for 2 to 3 minutes.
3. Talk with your doctor about pain medication options
Over-the-counter and prescription medications may provide significant relief from your sciatica symptoms. For example, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (like ibuprofen) and oral steroids can help relieve inflammation associated with the nerve that is pinched by your herniated disc.
Additionally, your doctor may prescribe muscle relaxants or narcotic medications on a short-term basis (typically less than 2 weeks) to alleviate intense sciatic pain.
Any of the above tips may help you find relief from sciatic pain caused by a lumbar herniated disc. But as a general rule, if you experience worsening neurological symptoms, if neurological symptoms are present in both legs, or if you have bladder or bowel incontinence don’t attempt self-treatment—seek medical attention straight away.