How We Can Help You for Sciatica
The doctors in the Stanford Medicine Spine Center have the experience needed to effectively treat sciatica.
Sciatica (pronounced “sy-AT-ik-uh”) results from irritation of the nerve roots leading to the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is formed by nerve roots that extend out of the spinal cord into the lower back, through the buttocks, down the legs, to the feet.
We help relieve the symptoms of sciatica, which may include pain in the back, buttocks, legs, or feet. Sciatica also can cause leg weakness, tingling, and numbness.
For many people, their sciatica gets better with time and symptoms go away. However, our team also offers complete treatment options. We always emphasize the least invasive treatment approaches possible, such as special exercises plus medication to relieve pain. In cases where surgery is needed, we have experience with all procedures.
Stanford Medicine Spine Center patients with sciatica also may have opportunities to participate in research studies of new treatment approaches not yet available anywhere else.
What We Offer You for Sciatica
- Center of Excellence for advanced care of all spine-related conditions.
- Nationally recognized expertise in treating all types of sciatica, no matter how complex.
- Precise diagnosis options including the latest imaging technology.
- Team-based treatment planning that brings together orthopaedic surgeons, neurologists and neurosurgeons, pain management specialists, rheumatologists, physiatrists, and others to tailor care to your needs.
- Advanced treatment options emphasizing noninvasive approaches whenever possible, including exercises, physical therapy, and medication therapy, and, when needed, spine surgery.
- Comprehensive support services including care coordination from diagnosis to treatment to follow-up.
- Active research program to develop new diagnostic and treatment advances.
Treatments for Sciatica
In some cases, sciatica will improve on its own. You can do the following to help with healing:
- Whenever possible, lie down instead of sit.
- Take short walks, and make each walk longer than the previous one until you can walk without pain.
- Use heat and/or cold packs to relieve pain: You may want to try one then the other to see which provides the most relief. It may be most effective to switch back and forth between hot and cold.
In other cases, stronger treatment is needed. For example, your doctor may recommend one or more approaches such as:
We always regard surgery as a last resort. Our team emphasizes noninvasive treatments whenever possible.
A physical therapy specialist may be able to help relieve your symptoms of sciatica.
A nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) such as ibuprofen, naproxen, or acetaminophen may help.
When more powerful medication is needed, your doctor may recommend steroids, muscle relaxants, or other prescription treatments.
In extreme cases of sciatica, your doctor may recommend surgery. Surgeons in the Stanford Medicine Spine Center have extensive experience with all procedures, from the common to the most complex.
Clinical trials are research studies that evaluate a new medical approach, device, drug, or other treatment. As a Stanford Health Care patient, you may have access to the latest clinical trials.
Open trials refer to studies that are currently recruiting participants or that may recruit participants in the near future.
What is Sciatica?
Sciatica results when nerve roots leading to the sciatic nerve become irritated. These roots extend out of the spinal cord into the lower back, through the buttocks, down the legs, to the feet.