How long does sciatica last?

how long does sciatica last

Ever have a constant burning or stinging pain in your lower back that spreads into one of your legs? This pain is usually related to what is known as sciatica.

Sciatica is the inflammation of the sciatic nerve due to prolonged irritation from outside forces, such as constant pressure on the spine. The sciatic nerve is a large nerve strand that stems from the lower back down into each of your legs. When part of it is irritated by pressure or an injury, the pain spreads through the nerve, which is why you feel it in one of your legs as well as your back. 

How long does sciatica last?

Many people experience pain like that which was just described. In many mild cases of sciatica, the pain goes away after a little time. Usually, moving around and stretching can help alleviate the pain. However, for some people, sciatica lasts for a long time, ranging from weeks to months. 

How long sciatica lasts depends on many factors, including:

  • Cause — There are many causes of sciatica, ranging from mild to severe, such as tight muscles in your back from sitting too long to a herniated disc that’s putting pressure on the nerves in your spine. Chronic conditions or injuries tend to cause sciatica that lasts longer than sciatica from tight or sore muscles.
  • Weight — Excess body weight increases stress on your spine, which can lead to sciatica or make it more difficult to recover from sciatica.
  • Age — As you age, the muscles grow stiffer and weaker if you are not very active, and the discs in your spine slowly wear down. As any of this happens, you grow more vulnerable to conditions like sciatica.
  • Medical history — Previous injuries or conditions in your lower back or spine may contribute to the development of sciatica.

When examining your pain, your doctor or physical therapist will review these factors as well as your individual symptoms to formulate a diagnosis. Often, you will need physical therapy for treatment.

Physical therapy for sciatica

In many circumstances, the main goal of physical therapy for sciatica is to improve the strength and flexibility of your muscles in the lower back, abdomen and legs. This helps reduce pressure off the spine, which can help manage the pain from your sciatica.

Physical therapy treatment routines are personalized to each person’s needs but generally will include:

  • Gentle stretches and exercises
  • Soft tissue mobilization
  • Joint mobilization
  • Posture guidance
  • Patient education

Visit Whatcom Physical Therapy for sciatica treatment

Do you have sciatica pain that feels like it will never go away? Our team at Whatcom Physical Therapy can help. We can examine your condition and guide you through a personalized treatment routine to help you manage the pain. Contact our team today about sciatica or to schedule an initial appointment.