The first stage in treating patients with sciatica is conservative treatment. In fact the vast majority of patients who are suffering with sciatica will have complete relief of their pain with time. The problem typically will heal itself over 4-8 weeks, and patients will be able to resume their normal activities. Other non-surgical options include, 2-3 days of limited bed rest, physical therapy, stretching exercises, light aerobic exercise, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication, neuropathic pain medication, muscle relaxants, and the use of either heat or cold therapy.
All of the above noted conservative treatment is done to help reduce inflammation and pain while you recover naturally. There is a reason for the limited bed rest for this condition. The spine responds very well to activity. Maintaining your exercise and activity level will help to reduce inflammation and will accelerate your recovery. Find positions that are comfortable while maintaining an active life style as soon as possible. Injections into your spine with steroids can in most patients provide only temporary improvement in you pain lasting between a few days to a few weeks. What we find is this conservative treatment will sometimes reduce your pain enough so that you can glean more benefits from therapy and exercise.
It is often difficult to exercise when you are in pain, and this will help by reducing some or all of that pain. If you are one of the 10-20% of patients who did not respond favorably to conservative treatment over a period of 2-3 months, then the surgical options will be available to you. If your sciatica is from a herniated disc, then you can expect a 90-98% chance of improving significantly your sciatic pain with a minimally invasive disc removal operation.