Beejal Y. Amin MD

Physical Therapy vs. Steroid Injections for Sciatica

Jan 16, 2024

Physical Therapy vs. Steroid Injections for Sciatica

If you’re suffering from sciatica pain or weakness in your back and legs, you need relief! What’s the best treatment for your sciatica, physical therapy, or steroid injections? Read to learn more. 

Sciatica occurs when your sciatic nerve gets pinched, compressed, or irritated. A lot of factors can cause a sciatica flare-up. Your sciatic nerve runs through your lower back, buttocks, and legs. Often, your sciatica symptoms concentrate on one side of your body.

During a sciatica attack, you may feel pain, numbness, or tingling in any of these areas. Sciatica can also cause muscle weakness. All of these difficult and even potentially debilitating symptoms need relief. Dr. Beejal Y. Amin provides sciatica treatment and support services from his self-named practice in Hinsdale and Woodridge, Illinois.

Depending on your symptoms and condition, Dr. Amin may recommend sciatica treatment options like physical therapy or corticosteroid injections. How do you know which approach to addressing sciatica is right for you? Let’s review your choices for sciatica treatment.

Relieving sciatica with physical therapy

It’s amazing how much you can improve your physical condition, biomechanics, and daily pain levels through physical therapy. This type of treatment is flexible and non-invasive, putting you in control of your sciatica treatment.

If you choose to manage your sciatica with physical therapy, Dr. Amin works with you to develop a program of stretches and exercises. Your physical therapy might focus on building up the muscles of your lower back to take pressure off your sciatic nerve. You may also benefit from stretches to relieve symptoms in your legs.

With the right physical therapy program, you might find that your sciatica becomes a problem of the past. Losing weight and staying active can help you avoid sciatica flare-ups in the future.

Treating sciatica with steroid injections

Another treatment option for sciatica, steroid injections, can provide highly effective short-term relief but may not be advisable as a long-term solution. Dr. Amin may suggest an epidural steroid injection (ESI) if other non-invasive treatment options like physical therapy haven’t worked for you.

This type of injection uses corticosteroid medication paired with a local anesthetic to relieve pain and inflammation relating to sciatica, improving mobility and allowing further treatment. Dr. Amin delivers your injection directly into the epidural space surrounding your spinal column, targeting the sciatic nerve to reduce inflammation at its roots.

If ESI treatment works for you, pain relief occurs right away. However, this type of treatment isn’t effective for all patients. 

You should know that the results are temporary; some patients experience relief lasting as long as a year, but for others, results can wear off after about one week. You can only receive about three injections in a single year, as extended steroid use may harm your health.

Determining the correct sciatica treatment for you

Dr. Amin supports his patients in putting together effective treatment plans. If you have sciatica symptoms, Dr. Amin starts your treatment with a thorough physical exam and uses an MRI to confirm your diagnosis and learn the nature of your nerve compression. This information guides your treatment going forward.

Most people can find relief from sciatica through non-invasive or minimally invasive approaches. It’s rare to need surgery for sciatica. Whether physical therapy, pain injections, or a combination approach is right for you, Dr. Amin guides you with expert advice and compassionate personal care.

For sciatica support, contact Beejal Y. Amin, MD, online or over the phone today and schedule your appointment.