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Anti-Inflammatories for Sciatica

author image Jacques Courseault
As a physical medicine and rehabilitation physician I have extensive experience in musculoskeletal/neurological medicine that will benefit the network.
Anti-Inflammatories for Sciatica
Naproxen pills. Photo Credit tankerblazer/iStock/Getty Images


According to MayoClinic.com, sciatica refers to pain that radiates along the path of the sciatic nerve from the back down the buttock and into the foot. Compression of this nerve can occur in the back, in the buttock or anywhere along the nerve as it tracts down the back of the leg. Treating the underlying cause of sciatica is the only cure for this condition. In most cases, conservative treatments that reduce symptoms include rest, ice therapy, physical therapy and anti-inflammatory medications.


Naproxen is a prescribed nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, or NSAID, that is commonly used to treat sciatica. This medication reduces chemical signals along the sciatic nerve that cause pain and inflammation. Thus, a patient taking naproxen as directed should notice an improvement in symptoms after a few days. Patients with heart, stomach, liver or kidney problems should not take this medication or serious complications may occur. Naproxen may adversely affect the gastrointestinal system in 1 to 10 percent of patients, states Drugs.com. This occurs because NSAIDs reduce chemical signals that protect the stomach lining from stomach acid. This can cause stomach bleeding, which results in stomach pain, bloody vomit or bloody stools. A patient should also seek immediate medical treatment if he experiences headaches, dizziness, skin rash, visual changes or heart problems.


Ibuprofen is an NSAID that is commonly prescribed to treat sciatic nerve pain. It may be the first medication prescribed, or it may be prescribed if another brand of NSAID is ineffective in treating sciatica. This medication is available over the counter or by prescription and also reduces chemical signals that cause pain and inflammation along the sciatic nerve. Like most NSAIDs, ibuprofen should not be taken if a patient has stomach, heart, liver or kidney problems. Furthermore, a patient should seek immediate medical treatment if she experiences chest pain, stomach pain, neck stiffness, slurred speech, dark urine, clay-colored stools or jaundice, states Drugs.com.

Epidural Steroid Injections

In more severe cases of sciatica, a doctor may recommend an epidural steroid injection, states MayoClinic.com. This procedure involves injecting a corticosteroid, which is a strong anti-inflammatory medication, into the spinal column. Corticosteroids can reduce inflammation in the spinal column, which may provide short-term relief. While this treatment may be effective, the number of injections per year is limited to avoid serious side effects. Risks of this procedure include infection, excessive bleeding and nerve damage, notes MayoClinic.com.

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