How to Tell if Your Sciatica Pain Is Really ImprovingTuesday, August 8th, 2023, 11:59 am
According to the Cleveland Clinic, about 40% of people will experience sciatica pain at some point in their life.
If you're part of that percentage, don't worry. The pain won't last forever. It could be gone in as soon as four weeks, but how do you know if it's actually getting better?
Keep reading for the signs of sciatica improving and what to do if they don't.
How Long Does Pain Last?
While each case will be different, sciatica pain could last anywhere between four to six weeks without any or minimal treatment. However, if it's severe, there might be a longer recovery time.
While the body can heal itself, sometimes more treatment is needed. If your pain has lasted for months and you're still experiencing pain, getting treatment for your condition can help.
Signs of Sciatica Improving
Some sciatica symptoms can actually prove that it's healing and that you're getting better.
Look for some of these signs.
Change in Symptoms
You should keep an eye out for any changes in your symptoms, and it's typically reduced pain. It could be something as simple as your symptoms not being as severe when you wake up in the morning.
You may also have fewer pain flare-ups per day, and it might be easier to stand up after sitting for a long time. Any progress is good progress!
Location of Pain Changes
If your pain doesn't decrease in severity, it may change location. For example, if your pain started in your lower back but then makes its way down to your foot, this could signal that the pain is leaving your body.
You might think that the pain isn't improving but rather getting worse, but this is actually a good sign.
If it helps, keep a journal of all the places where you've felt your sciatica pain and see if you notice any trends in the location.
The Pain Gets Worse
In some cases, your sciatica will get worse before it can start to improve. When this happens, it's called centralization.
The sciatic nerve reacts to any irritation or extra pressure and then becomes even more irritated. However, if it gets worse, it could mean that it'll get better soon once the nerve feels less pressure.
Increase in Lower Back Pain
Sciatica is common in your lower back, but sometimes it'll increase the pain in your lower back as it travels through your body.
This will likely pass, although it may feel uncomfortable. This type of pain is normal as long as it's temporary. It means that the nerve is healing, but there are some things that can help you with the discomfort while it heals.
For example, using heating and ice packs can be helpful to manage the pain. If you have poor sitting or sleep posture, adjusting it so that there is less strain on your lower back can help as well.
You can also try taking medication that will reduce your inflammation, like ibuprofen. Reducing the inflammation will mean that the sciatica nerve is pressed as much, which can lessen the pain.
Stop It From Returning
In general, sciatica is affected by your age, physical activity, and your overall health. If you have a preexisting health condition, you may heal slower than someone who doesn't have any other issues.
Younger patients also typically have an easier time healing from sciatica than older patients do. In addition to that, if you are mostly sedentary and sit for work all day, it could take you longer to heal.
However, you can utilize things like standing desks and ergonomic furniture to try and ease the pain.
If you've been to a doctor already, you need to follow their advice; otherwise, you're at risk of the symptoms returning. Make sure you follow all directions, like applying ice or heat, doing exercises, and paying attention to your body's symptoms and movement.
Try to avoid doing any extra movements that will make your pain worse. If you can't completely stop, at least try to limit it.
Other things that can help include managing your stress, sleeping in an ergonomic position, maintaining a healthy weight and diet, and limiting your use of alcohol and smoking.
When to See a Doctor
As we said before, it can take between four to six weeks for your sciatica to go away. If it's been longer than six weeks, it's time to see a doctor. However, if you notice any of the signs that we mentioned above, you can wait to see if it heals up.
However, you might want to make an appointment if your pain is getting worse and lasting longer. You should also make an appointment if any of the pain you're experiencing is numbness or tingling that radiates.
If your symptoms are too bad and are ruining your quality of life and hindering your ability to work, seeing a doctor can provide you relief so that you can get back to normal.
There are also some cases where sciatica doesn't go away. However, if you're in this situation, you may have a herniated disc instead. This pain will not go away unless you see a doctor for treatment.
Get Sciatica Treatment Today
If you're not seeing any signs of sciatica improving, then it may be time to schedule an appointment with your doctor.
We know that dealing with this type of pain can be stressful and take over your life, which is why we're here to help you find relief.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment with our doctors.