According to NHS sciatica is included in the list of the 20 most painful conditions you are likely to suffer from. Even though sciatica affects people of all ages, it’s more likely to experience sciatica pain as you get older. If it’s believed to statistics, sciatica affects from 10 % to 40 % of the population.
How long does sciatica last is not always easy to answer. Sciatica manifests in different ways and its nature depends on the cause of this condition, as well about how much the nerve is injured. So many factors will determine how long does sciatica last. Find out more reading this article.
The sciatica nerve, the longest nerve in the human body, has many important functions: sensory function to the muscle tissue of the body and providing the motor function of the whole body. When the sciatic nerve is inflamed or pinched, due to its length, the patient can feel intense pain and discomfort in different parts of the limb, as well as in the lower back, sacrum, or buttocks.
Often, sciatica is accompanied by other pathologies, such as injuries or inflammatory processes in the lower spine, infectious and viral diseases, diabetes, gout, or tumor.
Typical symptoms of sciatica are:
- Severe pain in the legs, lower back, sacrum, making any movements difficult
- Tingling or burning sensation in the legs
- Soreness on the back of the leg
- Constant pain in the buttocks
- Muscle weakness
- Cramps or numbness in the leg
- Back pain that gets worse while sitting or standing
- Fever can be typical for sciatica, as a sign of inflammation
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Even though people suffering from sciatica have similar symptoms, it’s hard to treat this condition the same way. Some people can find relief after just a few days of physiotherapy while others can feel the symptoms even after many years. When the nerve root is damaged in the lumbar area, this can cause pain for a long time – even for decades. In this period sciatica pain can have minor manifestations and the patient can easily determine when the condition can get worsen.
Young and generally healthy patients will recover much faster. On some occasions even without special treatment, the symptoms of sciatica can be eliminated, but that does not mean that we have completely cured sciatica. Eliminating the symptoms doesn’t mean that the causes of sciatica are gone too and sciatica can still keep on coming back.
How long does sciatica last on average?
It’s impossible to determine exactly how long does sciatica last on average. The duration of the pain depends on the individual characteristics of the organism. For some people, pain keeps coming back every few years and goes away quickly.
When sciatica is acute, the pain is very intense, first it arises and then soothes until it’s completely gone before it reoccurs. Chronic sciatica is a condition when the painful sensations are continuous for a few days, calming down only after taking medications. In this period, you can feel that the condition is getting better and on the other hand, it can get worse too.
Here are some of the factors that can influence how long does sciatica last:
- The number of spinal roots
- The size of the nerve roots of the spine in the lumbar region and sacrum
- The size of the joint space in the sacral region
- Type of pathology that causes pinched or inflamed nerve
To answer the question of how long does sciatica last, this can help out:
- When the symptoms reoccur periodically and disappear after a minimum of three weeks, this is the sign of inflammation of the nerve
- If the pain is persistent and doesn’t go away within a few months, then we’re talking about pinching. This case takes a longer treatment especially when both nerve branches are compressed in the lumbar and the sacral region at the same time.
So, in case the pain appears periodically, intensifies, and subsides during the day, this is a most likely sign of the inflammation of the sciatic nerve. In this situation, discomfort caused by sciatica usually fades away within 3 weeks.
When the pain is intense, constant and it includes pitching, most likely sciatica will last longer than 1 month.
When the muscle tissue is impaired, it can take from 6 months to 1 year to heal the inflamed nerve, if there is no presence of other chronic diseases. In case there are pathologies of the bone tissue, sciatica can become permanent, causing much discomfort for the patient.
What is the best treatment for sciatica?
As you have noticed, there is no final answer to the question of how long does sciatica last. The duration of the treatment may depend on the degree of nerve damage, concomitant diseases, and therapy options.
When sciatica occurs here are some of the advice to help you out to ease the pain:
- Restrict the physical activity
- Try to relax
- Try to rest and stay in bed, at least for 1 day
- Try to relieve the pain by using pain-killers
- Make an appointment with a doctor in case the condition doesn’t get better
As a rule, sciatica attacks do not last long, as its soreness gradually decreases and disappears altogether within a few weeks. Exercise of stretching for the lower back and hip can enhance the recovery.
Be sure to contact a therapist, if:
- Pain sensations don’t go away even after a week of trying with home remedies
- If the pain is so severe that it reduces the quality of life and the painkillers are your daily companion
- If the sciatica pain gets worse every day
After the examination, the doctor will direct you to the necessary specialist: a neurologist, orthopedist, or surgeon.
Sometimes, therapy can take weeks but sometimes it can take even a few months. The main aim of the treatment is that the patient returns back to normal life and prevent relapses.
SCIATICA TREATMENT AT HOME
Keep in mind that some simple procedures you can do on your own can help to relieve the unpleasant symptoms and restore blood circulation.
- Cold compresses – can be used in the first days after the sciatic nerve is pinched. Apply an ice pack wrapped in a thin cloth to the painful area for 20 minutes several times per day
- Warm compresses – are applied 2-3 days after sciatica occurs. Apply a heating pad with hot water to the affected area for 10-15 minutes and repeat several times per day. It’s good to try to combine both cold and warm compresses.
- Stay active – Movement can help you get rid of the nerve pinching
- Take pain killers over-the-counter
- Stretch your lower back and hips – there are many exercises so you can choose the ones that suit you the best.
- Use pain-relief cream – Many people use different types of natural creams (such as Acuraflex cream) aiming to relieve painful sensations. As such products are made from natural ingredients there are no side effects. Acuraflex products, both capsules, and cream are made of high-quality natural ingredients (like Curcuma extract, menthol, eucalyptus, ginger, … ) that act as a natural analgesic and have a quick analgesic effect and are very effective in chronic diseases. Aside from acting directly on the affected areas of the body, there are so many positive effects on all organs and parts of your body.
Check out the best cream for sciatica pain HERE.
When sciatica persists for a long time, advise your doctor to prescribe specialized treatment.
How long does sciatica past last will likely to depend on the method of treatment.
Usual methods when treating sciatica include:
- Taking medications
- Herbal medicine and traditional medicine
How long will take the pain to fade away depends on the chosen treatment and how carefully the patient follows the doctor’s advice.
Note that complex treatment will have a better impact rather than using one method. In the case when the pain is too severe, doctors can give the patient a blockade – that literally ease the pain in a few minutes.
But when the action of the analgesic stops and the painful sensations reoccur, it’s clear that sciatica needs to be treated gradually and systematically.
Take good care of your health and don’t neglect the first symptoms when they appear and seek proper medical advice.
Don’t forget that sciatica is much easier to prevent than to cure.
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