Sciatica is a chronic painful condition of the lower back that causes radiating pain in the buttock, lower leg, and foot. The intensity of pain varies among the individuals, in some cases, pain is severe and debilitating. Even if the pain is not severe, it does last for weeks in most cases, thus prompting the questions: How long will sciatica last? Or will sciatica every go away?
Sciatica is challenging to predict, and unfortunately, the pain would last at least few weeks in most cases. Fortunately, the pain would subside in the majority of cases within few weeks, only in a small number of cases pain may continue to persist for months. Sciatica nerve, the most significant nerve in the human body, is not only responsible for sensation but also for movement. Thus in sciatica, in many cases, there may be associated difficulty to control movements of lower limbs.
Pain in sciatica occurs due to compression or pinching of the nerve. Sciatic pain can be both acute or chronic. The acute pain would last only a few days and would subside quickly. In acute sciatica rest, physiotherapy along with common painkillers are effective. However, in chronic sciatica things are different. Chronic sciatica is mostly a consequence of herniated disc or alterations in the spinal bones, and thus it requires more specific treatment.
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What are the options for quick relief from sciatica?
Good news is that in most cases sciatic pain would subside with rest, physiotherapy, use of common painkillers and supplements, stretching exercises, application of heat, and other simple methods. Most people can expect to get well in a couple of months. Use of traditional medicines or natural methods can significantly accelerate the recovery. Some of the most common ways for quick pain relief and healing are:
- Using pain relievers for sciatica pain: One of the first approaches of most people in sciatica is to go for some kind of pain reliever. Non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs are commonly used as primary ways to relieve pain and inflammation. These drugs may help in some instances, but in most cases, they would only decrease the pain. Some people may also take painkillers with muscle relaxants. In severe cases, doctors may prescribe opioid to relieve pain. Narcotic drugs though effective in pain reducing, but they must be used with caution due to side effects.
- Treatment by chiropractic: It is one of the procedures of choice. Chiropractic may provide some manipulations, may prescribe massage or may advise physiotherapy sessions. Chiropractic may also prescribe stretching exercises, may advise on improving posture.
- Acupuncture: It may help to relieve the pain; acupuncture is proven to be useful in the nerve-related
- Therapeutic yoga: It helps to reduce stress, stretch muscles, improve flexibility. Yoga may also help to prevent sciatica in the future.
- Osteopathic manipulation: It may do wonder in some instances, specialist of this form of medicine may do specific manipulations of the spine and related structures. It may help to improve the motion and shape of the lower
- Surgical method: Often the last resort, but in some cases, pain may not be relieved by any of the methods, illness may be debilitating. Surgery may help to treat herniated disc or correct the overgrowth of the bone.
So how quickly can one expect to get well?
Perhaps the worst thing about the sciatica is a little bit of unpredictability around it. Every case is different, in every individual reason for nerve compression varies, and thus the prognosis. In some cases, pain may subside all of a sudden after a couple of weeks, while in some cases condition may linger on for months even with intensive treatment.
However, there is no need to lose heart; it is vital to understand that most people would recover entirely within month or two with general painkillers and physiotherapy. Essential is not to neglect the things, it is extremely important to treat sciatica with a combination of non-pharmacological methods, and one should stick to them. Thus do yoga, stretching exercise, go to a physiotherapist, consult chiropractic or osteopath, take health supplements, use over the counter pain relievers. Just remember that in most cases of sciatica outlook is excellent.
Once the person has recovered from sciatica, it is also important to stick to the specific form of exercises to prevent it from returning. Exercises to prevent sciatica should include stretching of the back, strengthening of back muscles, relaxation techniques. In lower back conditions like sciatica strengthening of the abdomen is also very important, as abs muscles are major supporting muscles.
Finally, one should try to identify the causes of sciatica. If it is stress, yoga or tai chi or practicing mindfulness may help. If the reason is obesity or diabetes, shedding 10% of your body weight may do wonder. And do not forget to take supplement known to be good for nerve health like B12 or fish oil.