Little Direct Evidence for Use of Drugs to Treat Sciatica

As a chiropractor, lots of my patients come and see me saying they have got sciatica. However it is a term that is often misunderstood and misdiagnosed.

What is sciatica

In its truest sense sciatica refers to low back pain and accompanying leg pain. It is caused by compression of spinal nerve roots as they emerge from the spinal canal. The most common cause for this is the herniation of a lumbar disc but compression can also be caused by spondylolisthesis (where one vertebra slips forward on anther) or degenerative bony spurs. In all three cases the aim of chiropractic treatment is to improve the biomechanics of the low back to try and relieve the compression of the nerve root and calm inflammation in surrounding tissues.

Will paracetamol or ibuprofen help my sciatica?

A recent study looked at how effective the current treatments for sciatica were and found that drugs are of little use in helping the condition. Commonly prescribed drugs include paracetamol, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAID’s) as well as antidepressants and muscle relaxants. However it was found that they were generally no better outcomes on pain or function over taking a placebo (a sugar pill with no therapeutic effect).

So make an appointment and come and see a chiropractor!!

Other causes of leg pain

The hip joint, sacroiliac joint and the muscles of the buttock and hip region can all refer pain into the leg. As a chiropractor it is my job to thoroughly examine the area of complaint and work out which structures as responsible for the pain.

Study published in BMJ 2012;334:e487

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