Sciatica Medication: 7 Most Prescribed Meds for Relief

Sciatica medication should be prescribed by a doctor, and may include from analgesics, anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxants, tricyclic antidepressants or corticosteroids.

Sciatic pain that is very serious and inhibits you from sitting, standing or walking can be described by the patient as a "pinched" feeling in the spine that blocks the spine from moving. In these cases, corticosteroids may need to be injected by a health care professional.

To manage sciatica on a chronic basis and to prevent future injuries, the doctor may additionally recommend a rehabilitation program. These typically involve exercises to correct posture, strengthen the muscles that support the spine and improve flexibility. 

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Common medications

The most common medications that are prescribed for sciatica are: 

Medication class Medication name
1. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) Ketoprofen, ibuprofen, naproxen 
2. Analgesics Acetominophen
3. Opioid analgesics Codeine, tramadol 
4. Corticosteroids Dexamethasone, betamethasone
5. Muscle relaxants Cyclobenzaprine, orphenadrine 
6. Anticonvulsants Gabapentin, pregabalin
7. Tricyclic antidepressants Imipramine, nortryptiline, amitryptiline 

Generally, the medications that are initially prescribed are NSAIDSs and analgesics. If these medications are deemed ineffective, the doctor can prescribe stronger medications. The doctor must consider all factors when prescribing, including the possible side effects they can cause. 

Sciatic pain is characterized by a burning sensation that can be felt in the lower spine, glutes and legs, from the front or back of the thigh to the foot. This pain is normally caused by compression of the sciatic nerve due to abnormalities in the lumbar spine, stress or piriformis muscle contraction. Learn more about what sciatica is and why it can occur.

How to relieve sciatic pain 

To relieve sciatica quickly, particularly in serious cases with intense pain, the doctor may prescribe an epidural injection of corticosteroids. When injected in the area where pain is felt, the corticosteroids can help to reduce inflammation that is contributing to pain.

Injections only provide a temporary relief, however, but can provide enough pain relief to allow patients to participate in other pain management modalities, like physiotherapy, osteopathy, acupuncture, water aquatics and Pilates. These modalities can help with chronic pain management and prevent future lesions. See the sciatica stretches your doctor may recommended to help maintain movility and relieve pain.

In very serious cases, the doctor may recommended surgery to decompress a pinched sciatic nerve or repair a herniated disc, which may be causing the problem. However, 90% of patients do not require surgery and are able to achieve a cure through physiotherapy. 

Read more about other sciatica pain relief methods that you can try at home.

Signs of improvement

Signs of improvement emerge soon after taking prescribed medication, and include improved pain ratings and relief in the affected leg. Patients are typically able to move more freely and complete activities of daily living. 

Possible complications

If the sciatic nerve continues to receive low blood supply, it can lead to permanent damage. This can lead to pain that is felt along the entire sciatic nerve, as well as a loss of sensitivity in these areas. 

When the sciatic nerve undergoes a serious injury, like a car accident, the best treatment approach is surgery. If the surgeon is unable to repair the nerve completely, long-term physiotherapy may be necessary.