Sciatica can be a frustrating condition for anyone to experience and can make engaging in daily activities extremely painful and difficult. If you’re experiencing sciatica, you’re not alone. It’s estimated that about 40% of all Americans will experience sciatica at least once in their lives. Many people battling sciatica will feel pain in their back, legs, or buttocks. Sciatica symptoms can be acute and could go away on their own, or they can continually reappear.
If you’re undergoing treatment for sciatica, how will you know if it’s improving? This article will help you gain a better understanding of sciatica, treatments for sciatica, and what signs of sciatica improving to look for.
What is Sciatica?
The sciatic nerve, which runs through the lower body, is the longest and thickest nerve in the body. The sciatic nerve is an important part of the body because it provides the sensation of feeling in most of your lower body and also controls the muscles in the back of the knees and the lower leg. It originates in the lumbar and sacral regions of the vertebrae and travels along multiple branching nerve pathways through the thighs and into the feet.
Because the sciatic nerve is rooted in a weight-bearing portion of the body, it is susceptible to irritation from injury or excessive pressure. When this occurs, it can become inflamed, causing the condition we know as sciatica. Sciatica can cause a variety of symptoms, including:
- Burning, shooting, or radiating pain from the lumbar region to the feet
- Weakness in the feet and legs
- Numbness in the feet and legs
- A “pins-and-needles” sensation in the legs or feet
- General discomfort in the leg
- Pain when bending over or when standing from a seated position
- Pain when twisting or rotating the body
Sciatica pain can often feel like a “dull ache,” mild tingling, or burning and can be mild to severe depending on the cause. While sciatica can be acute, lasting only a few short weeks, it can also become chronic and expose you to recurring bouts of symptoms.
Sciatica is often associated with herniated discs; however, it can also be caused by issues with the spine’s curvature and spinal misalignments. This is because postural issues like these can place extra weight and strain on the nerve, causing it to become inflamed. Symptoms of sciatica can be consistent or may wax and wane depending on how and where the sciatica nerve is being compressed.
Sciatica can present symptoms in one or both legs and can also differ if they appear in both. Sciatica is not a disease in itself but is instead a symptom of an underlying cause.
Signs of Sciatica Improving
While sciatica is a frustrating condition to deal with, it can be effectively treated.
Some cases of sciatica can resolve on their own within a few weeks. However, other more severe cases will often require some mixture of treatments that address the root cause of sciatic nerve irritation.
Signs of sciatica improving include:
- More varied symptoms: If you begin experiencing less uncomfortable symptoms, it could be a sign that the inflammation of the sciatic nerve is reducing. For example, if a consistent burning sensation is replaced by a numbness or tingling sensation, your sciatica could be improving.
- Fewer flare-ups: Sciatica often manifests in waves or flare-ups. When you begin to experience less consistent flare-ups, it could be a sign that your sciatica is improving.
- Less difficulty standing up and moving from a seated or resting position: Sciatica typically makes it difficult for people to move from reclining positions without experiencing symptoms. If getting up becomes easier and less painful, it could mean that there is an improvement.
- Retraction of symptoms: When sciatica symptoms begin to become more proximal, your sciatica is likely getting better. For instance, if you normally experience symptoms along the entire length of one leg down into the feet and you begin to only feel symptoms in your calf, your sciatic nerve is experiencing less inflammation.
If sciatica symptoms seem to be improving, what is the total recovery time? Your time of recovery depends on a combination of factors such as the severity of your sciatic nerve inflammation, the cause of your sciatica, and whether or not you receive the appropriate treatment for it.
If you have acute sciatica, symptoms may resolve on their own within a few days while more severe and chronic cases of sciatica will require treatment.
|Type of Sciatica||How Long It Lasts||Time of Recovery|
|Acute sciatica||2-3 days||1-2 weeks|
|Sub-acute sciatica||2-3 weeks||6-8 weeks|
|Chronic sciatica||Many years||Recurring without treatment|
While dealing with or recovering from sciatica, you will want to avoid certain activities or behaviors that could reignite or exacerbate irritation, such as:
- Heavy weightlifting
- Certain exercises
- Contact sports
- Sitting for long periods with no breaks
- Poor ergonomics
- Poor sleep positions
Chiropractic Care for Sciatic Pain
The most important element of a quick recovery from sciatica is receiving proper treatment. Chiropractic care offers some of the most effective treatment options for sciatica that go beyond alleviating symptoms to eliminate the actual cause of your sciatica, preventing it from reoccurring.
Some of the best treatments for sciatica include:
- Decompression therapy
- Physical therapy
- McKenzie exercises
- The use of sacroiliac (SI) belts if the issue is related to the SI joint
- Massage therapy for peripheral entrapments of sciatica
To guarantee the efficacy of treatment, the source of your sciatica needs to be isolated and addressed. Sciatica can come from one or multiple sources of exogenous pressure; without knowing where those are, even the most effective treatments may only provide a reprieve from symptoms.
Moreover, effective treatments may be utilized, but perhaps not in the correct order. That’s why it’s crucial to ensure that the root cause of your sciatica is identified.
Better Sciatica Relief with Chiropractic BioPhysics® from PostureWorks
Treating sciatica requires an accurate and nuanced understanding of your body and techniques that are just as refined. That’s why your best solution is to partner with a chiropractor that uses structural and biomechanical assessments to pinpoint the root cause of your sciatica for long-term recovery.
The team at PostureWorks uses Chiropractic BioPhysics® to assess your spinal health and craft a customized treatment plan tailored to the cause of your sciatica and your unique needs so you can get back to doing the things you love.
Contact us today for more signs of sciatica improving or to schedule your appointment with PostureWorks.
Chiropractic BioPhysics®, or CBP, is a deeply researched and results-oriented corrective care technique. CBP-trained chiropractors aim to realign the spine back to health and optimal function. As with all chiropractic care, CBP is conservative, painless, and non-invasive.