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Sciatica (cont.)

Other Therapy

  • Physical therapy is often prescribed for sciatica.
  • You may receive special instructions from your doctor on dealing with back pain. Some suggest complete bed rest - getting up only to go to the bathroom. Others suggest you sleep on the floor or put a board under your mattress for support. Some will tell you to use heat, others cold. You may also get information with pictures of back exercises and stretches you are expected to start when the pain improves. (These patient education sheets come from different sources and may have conflicting information.)
  • Current research recommends that you stay active, within limits imposed by your pain. If you can avoid reinjuring yourself, you should try to stay at work. If the pain forces you to rest, do so, but avoid staying in bed just because you have back pain.
  • If you are not improving after a week or 10 days, talk with your doctor about alternative therapies. Millions of people get some relief by visiting physical therapists, osteopaths, and chiropractors. Others find that relaxation techniques and acupuncture work for them.
  • Studies have shown that exercise therapy is helpful to treat back pain that persists for more than a few weeks. Good exercises for sciatica include walking, yoga, Pilates, and other specialized exercise programs.
  • Recent studies in Europe and Scotland show that injection of botulinum toxin (Botox) gives relief to many people suffering from long-term sciatica. There are, thus far, not enough cases or completed studies to make this more than an experimental procedure.
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