How Long Does Sciatica Last?
If you have ever suffered from sciatica pain, you probably remember being anxious and desperate for relief. Not only can sciatica pain flare up with or without physical activity, but it can also disrupt your sleep, make even routine daily activities nearly impossible, and appear virtually overnight. The knowledgeable team at Interventional Orthopedics of Atlanta, under the direction of expert provider Dr. Christopher Williams, is committed to helping patients achieve rapid, reliable, and long-lasting relief from sciatica pain through the most advanced techniques and tools available. If you are suffering from sciatica nerve pain, use this helpful information to understand what treatment options you have and how long you can expect your symptoms to last.
What is sciatica?
Sciatica is a painful condition associated with inflammation, damage, or pressure on the sciatic nerve. Sciatica is technically a form of radiculopathy, which can also affect the cervical and lumbar spine. In patients with true sciatica, the sciatic nerve – which is the longest nerve in the body and runs from the lower back down through both legs – is specifically affected, causing symptoms in the buttocks, hips, and upper legs, and sometimes calves.
What causes sciatica?
The technical cause of sciatica is undue stress or damage to the sciatic nerve, which can occur for a variety of reasons. The most common causes of sciatica include:
- Herniated disc
- Spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spine)
- Bone spur on the spine
- Strain, overuse, or trauma
Who is at risk for sciatica?
Sciatica can impact nearly anyone, though some men and women may be at greater risk for developing the condition. Risk factors for sciatica often include:
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Physically strenuous job
- Advanced age
What are the symptoms of sciatica?
The symptoms of sciatica can often mimic those of other conditions, making professional evaluation and diagnosis imperative for appropriate treatment. Most commonly, sciatica symptoms include:
- Pain or ache along sciatic nerve, from lower back through legs
- Burning sensation
- Tingling or numbness
- Worsening pain with extended periods of inactivity or sitting
- Unilateral pain (only on one side)
For some patients with sciatica in Atlanta, symptoms may come and go, while other patients experience fairly constant symptoms throughout the day. Additionally, sciatica symptoms can range from severe, sharp pain to dull, mild aching. During your initial consultation, Dr. Williams will carefully evaluate your symptoms, take a thorough health history, and perform any necessary labs or imaging studies in order to make an accurate diagnosis and recommend appropriate treatment.
How long does sciatica pain last?
For the majority of patients, acute sciatica pain resolves within 1 – 2 weeks. In some cases, behavioral modification or at-home remedies may be adequate for relieving sciatica pain. However, certain patients may develop chronic sciatica pain which may wax and wane but remains present over many years. Even acute sciatica can recur on multiple occasions and may progress to a chronic condition.
If your sciatica symptoms last for more than a week, or if you begin to lose control of your bowels or bladder, it is important to seek professional evaluation as soon as possible to prevent further damage.
How is sciatica pain treated in Atlanta, GA?
In a number of cases, sciatica pain can be relieved simply through rest and/or altering certain behaviors. However, severe or prolonged sciatica symptoms often require medical treatment. Dr. Williams offers a wide variety of advanced sciatica treatments in Atlanta and will begin with more conservative methods to help alleviate pain in the most natural ways possible. If a patient’s sciatica is resistant to conservative treatments and persists or becomes worse, additional intervention may be needed. Common sciatica treatments include:
- Resting the back (avoid complete inactivity)
- Chiropractic Care
- Physical therapy
- Pulsed Electromagnetic Frequency Therapy (PEMF)
- Over-the-counter medications
- Prescription medications
- Orthobiologic Treatments (Platelet Rich Plasma - PRP, Platelet Growth Factors)
For patients with severe sciatica that begins to affect other functions, such as bowel and bladder function, surgery is often necessary.
When properly diagnosed and treated, most men and women are able to achieve dramatic relief from sciatica pain within 14 days. To help prevent future episodes of sciatica, patients are encouraged to practice proper posture and exercise regularly.
Rid yourself of sciatica pain quickly with sciatica diagnosis and treatment in Atlanta, GA
If painful sciatica symptoms are making your everyday life miserable, it may be time to seek help. Call the caring team at Interventional Orthopedics of Atlanta to schedule your private in-office or online consultation with sought-after orthopedic expert Dr. Christopher Williams today, and discover how getting quick relief from sciatica nerve pain may be easier than you think!