The efficacy of drugs for sciatica treatment has been called into question in a recent literature review. Although there are consistent guidelines for prescribing medication for low-back pain, “this is not the case for sciatica.” To address this lack of clear guidelines, researchers analyzed the results of current literature on pharmaceutical treatment of sciatica.1
After evaluating 23 studies, researchers concluded that there is no clear evidence demonstrating “favourable effects of NSAIDs2, corticosteroids, antidepressants, or opioid analgesics in the immediate term [relief of pain] even compared with placebo.” That means that in many studies, drugs were no more effective than a placebo in relieving pain. Several drugs also did not significantly impact leg pain, one of the primary symptoms of sciatica. Though some NSAIDs and an anticonvulsant called gabapentin did reduce overall pain in the short term, the long-term effective were unclear.
For long-lasting relief of sciatica pain, chiropractic care combined exercise may ultimately prove more effective by addressing the root cause of sciatic pain instead of simply easing symptoms.
- Rafael Zambelli Pinto, Chris G Maher, Manuela L Ferreira, Paulo H Ferreira, Mark Hancock, Vinicius C Oliveira, Andrew J McLachlan, Bart Koes.”Drugs for relief of pain in patients with sciatica: systematic review and meta-analysis.” British Medical Journal. 2012, February; 344:e497 doi: 10.1136/bmj.e497.
- NSAID stands for nonsteroidal anti-inflammator drug; they are typically common pain medication like ibuprofen or asprin.