07 Aug How Long Does Sciatica Take to Heal and What Measures Do You Need to take?
If you recently received a diagnosis for sciatica, the first question on your mind was probably about how long sciatica can last. While there are certain myths & facts about sciatica pain, let’s stick to the basics for now.
What Is Sciatica?
Before getting into the details of how long sciatica lasts, it’s important to understand the condition. Sciatica refers to pain affecting the sciatic nerve branches. The sciatic nerve is the largest one in the body, made up of five nerve roots that come from the lower spine. Therefore, patients with sciatica experience pain in their lower back, which can travel down to their hips and buttocks and even reach as far as both legs. The primary causes of sciatica pain are:
- Trauma, overuse, or strain
- Bone spur on the spine
- Herniated disc
- Spinal stenosis
Both men and women can develop this problem, but people with the following conditions face a higher risk of developing sciatica:
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Advanced age
- Physically strenuous job
Symptoms of Sciatica
Early detection of sciatica pain can help you determine how long it will take for sciatica to go away because at this stage you can manage it and prevent it from getting worse. The following symptoms can indicate if you’re suffering from sciatica.
- Ace or pain along the sciatic nerve from the lower back through the legs
- Numbness or Tingling
- Burning sensation
- Unilateral pain
- Worsening pain with extended periods of sitting or inactivity
If you fail to manage it at the early stages, sciatica pain can get worse. Patients start to feel symptoms throughout the day, ranging from severe, sharp pain to a mild, dull ache. You should schedule an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible if you notice any of the above-mentioned symptoms.
How Long Does a Sciatica Flareup Last?
Several factors can result in a sciatica flare-up, but it usually affects people with sedentary lifestyles. Sitting for long periods, especially with a poor posture, can lead to intense sciatic pain or make symptoms worse.
It’s also common to develop problems by lying down for extended periods or lifting heavy objects using poor technique and posture. Consequently, you may suffer from a slipped disc that puts pressure on your sciatic nerve.
Still wondering how long a sciatica flare-up lasts? It depends on your condition, but you can expect it to last for 1 to 2 weeks. With the right home remedies, pain management medication, and guidance from your doctor,you can improve your sciatica early on. However, your doctor can’t give a fixed answer on how long sciatica will take to heal. So, it’s better to wait until it heals.
Chronic and Acute: How Long Will Sciatica Take to Heal?
Continuous acute or chronic sciatica is very painful. You may struggle to perform everyday chores or even sit. In case of acute pain, you can expect it to last for a week or two. It heals on its own, so you’ll feel like you’re getting better in a few days. You will also feel some numbness after the pain subsides. People who don’t improve their lifestyle habits or practice pain prevention techniques might suffer from a few sciatica episodes each year.
Also, acute pain can become chronic sciatica without proper precautions. Because of this, you start to experience pain just about every day and for longer periods. At this point, sciatica will become a lifelong condition and may not respond to treatments. However, the pain you feel will be less painful and severe than acute sciatica.
How Long Does it Take to Recover From Sciatica, And How to Manage it?
Wondering how long it takes the sciatic nerve to heal? Many patients can heal sciatica using self-care. If it’s your first time suffering from it, you can rest for a few days to help with the pain. But don’t stay inactive for too long, as it can make your symptoms worse.
You can also apply cold or hot packs to your back to reduce intense, severe pain. Certain yoga stretches can also help with sciatica, but discuss them with doctors before trying.
Over-the-counter medication can reduce inflammation, chronic pain, and swelling. If your symptoms are getting worse and the aforementioned tips don’t work for you, it’s time to see a Chicago pain management expert. After assessing your condition, they might give you some medications to alleviate symptoms. This includes:
- Muscle relaxers for patients with spasms
- Anti-inflammatory medication
- Narcotics in serious cases
- Tricyclic antidepressants
- Anti-seizure medications
Some health experts also prescribe physical therapies and steroid injections.
Which Lifestyle Changes Can Prevent Sciatica Flare?
Considering how long it takes to recover from sciatica, it’s important to understand how painful it can get to carry out everyday activities. To prevent the problem from exacerbating and speed up the healing process, you can make a few changes to your lifestyle.
- Increase daily physical activity to strengthen your lower back muscles
- Never bend over to lift heavy objects – try squatting when lifting heavy objects
- Keep your back straight while sitting
- Stick to a clean diet to avoid diabetes and obesity, which are primary risk factors
Few Other Things That You Need to Know
- Many women who face sciatica during pregnancy ask how long sciatica usually lasts. The pain can last for the remaining period of your pregnancy, but you can discuss the problem with your gynecologist to reduce your pain.
- Sciatica is different from general back pain, as sciatica pain radiates from the lower back and reaches the hips and legs.
- Symptoms of a herniated disc, pinched nerve, and bursitis are similar to sciatica.
- You should see a doctor immediately if conditions persist for more than a week and home remedies are unable to reduce the pain.
Treat Your Sciatica Pain with the Help of Experts
Sciatica is very painful, whether it’s chronic or acute. Considering how long the sciatic nerve takes to heal, it’s likely that you will feel very fatigued for one to three weeks, based on the severity of your pain.
If you want to alleviate symptoms as soon as possible and learn how long sciatica takes to heal, contact Chicago Pain Management Experts at Illinois Pain & Spine Institute. We can identify the cause of sciatica pain and suggest effective treatment options to reduce it.