Pain along the Sciatic Nerve can limit daily activity. The pain typically runs from the lower back down the buttocks. It can also cause pain in the back of the knee, thigh, and lower leg. Sciatica can feel like hip nerve pain in some people. Sciatic nerve pain typically originates in the low back. Inflammation in a disk or facet joint can irritate the sciatic nerve.
The quick answer to how long does sciatica last is to stop the activity that is irritating it. A common recommendation is to stretch the nerve, but this may not be the best way to treat it. Nerve tissue does not respond well to stretching, especially when it is inflamed. Avoiding positions that stretch the sciatic nerve may be the best way to help the pain initially. Hamstring stretches can pull on the sciatic nerve, so avoiding hamstring stretching may limit the nerve's irritation initially. Basic movement exercises may be the best treatment initially. See our article on the Top 3 Sciatic Nerve Stretches for more specifics on lower back stretches that may help.
The quick answer is that typically, Sciatica is a temporary issue. Most people are better in 4 to 8 weeks. In rare cases, it can lead to permanent disability, but there are usually other factors such as severe nerve injury, other health complications, obesity, and a lack of conditioning. Most of the time, Sciatica is treatable with physical therapy. Some severe cases require steroid injections in the spine. In rare cases, surgery may be required in the lumbar spine to relieve sciatic symptoms. Your actions can determine how long does sciatica last.
Anti-inflammatory medications may help with the pain in the sciatic nerve. Consult a physician if you are not sure about whether anti-inflammatory medications are safe for you. Ice, heat, and massage may help treat symptoms.
Sciatica can go away on its own, but physical therapy may help it go away faster because it typically originates from lumbar spine issues. Without physical therapy treatment for the low back, there is a high chance of recurring issues with the low back and sciatic nerve. Physical therapy helps to train the deep stabilizing muscle to control movements in the low back. This allows for more normal movement patterns. Normal muscle activity and movement patterns make re-irritation less likely.
Physical Therapy has been shown to decrease the pain associated with sciatica significantly. It also can decrease the length of time the sciatic nerve is irritated. Therapists can use modalities like electrical stimulation or laser therapy to decrease pain and inflammation. Stretching and core strengthening can also help to get you back on the road to recovery.