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The short answer? Yes. However, if your sciatica pain keeps coming back, you should seek medical advice. There are some underlying causes of sciatica that require medical advice, diagnosis, and treatment.
If your sciatic nerve is being irritated by something structural like a herniated disc, bulging disc, or a bone spur, then your sciatica will continue to flare up until the underlying problem is addressed. An MRI will give your health care provider a first-hand look at what is going on in your back and help them formulate a treatment plan to help manage and, in some cases, alleviate your pain.
This article will look at some common causes of sciatica, home remedies for back and sciatic pain, and some conservative treatment options should you need them.
A new flare-up or acute episode of sciatica can last for one to two weeks with conservative, at-home treatment and will usually resolve on its own. It's not uncommon, though, to have multiple flare-ups over a period of time. When people continue to have regular flare-ups of back and sciatic pain, it is considered a chronic condition.
Chronic sciatica takes much longer to go away because the sciatic nerve has been irritated for a longer period of time. Chronic sciatica will likely require ongoing treatment to resolve. We will explore that further in a minute.
Sciatic nerve pain can start in your back, or it can start in your buttocks and travel down your leg, depending on how irritated the sciatic nerve is. Here are some home remedies to relieve back pain and irritation of the sciatic nerve.
-Ice or heat - applied to the lower back, leg, or buttocks for 20-minute intervals throughout the day.
-Gentle stretching - focus on pain relief, not flexibility when stretching if it hurts, then back off.
-Postural awareness - Ensure your posture is good no matter where you are sitting, standing, or lying. Don't slouch or arch your back. Use back support and a small footrest under your feet when sitting. Also, avoid staying in one position for too long.
-Gentle exercise - gentle is the keyword here, a slow walk outside or some gentle movements while sitting, standing, or lying down.
-Over the counter anti-inflammatory medication - Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), Acetaminophen (Tylenol), Naproxen (Aleve). Check with your doctor or pharmacist to be sure that these medicines are safe for you to take.
People tend to think more is better when it comes to pain relief, but less is definitely more when dealing with nerve pain. Nerves are very delicate and highly irritable and respond best when handled with much care.
Moving is good for nerves as it increases blood flow, but there is a delicate balance between too much movement and not enough. Pay attention to what your body is telling you and slow down if your pain increases. But don't spend too much time in bed either. Inactivity can also make your symptoms worse.
When sciatic pain doesn't go away, there is more than likely an underlying cause, and a visit to your physician is warranted. Sciatica pain is directly related to irritation of the sciatic nerve. As mentioned earlier, there can be a structural cause within the spine, but there can also be a systemic cause.
Some people have high levels of inflammation in their system, which can affect the entire body. This can be a result of diet, exposure to certain toxins, or an underlying disease process. Your doctor can perform a blood test to check your inflammation levels.
Some treatments that your physician might recommend include:
-Physical Therapy - a physical therapist will perform an evaluation and formulate a treatment plan of exercises and modalities to help reduce your symptoms. They will also teach you how to best manage your symptoms at home, including body mechanics training, posture training, nerve glides, and stretches.
-Epidural Steroid Injections - Your doctor may recommend epidural steroid injections if you have a bulging or herniated disc. These are usually performed under guided fluoroscopy, a live x-ray where the doctor can see the area that needs to be injected. A local anesthetic is used to minimize discomfort.
If your sciatic nerve pain does not go away, the sooner you seek medical advice, the better. The longer a nerve stays irritated, the longer it will take it to settle down once the irritating factor is removed. You also run the risk of damaging the nerve if it is occluded for too long.
So if you are terrified of shots and an epidural steroid injection sounds absolutely terrible, fear not. They really aren't that bad, and the reward will be well worth it.
Sciatic nerve pain can be very problematic. It can also present differently during each flare-up. You may find that you have more low back pain and less leg pain with one flare-up, and then you have no back pain and only buttock and leg pain with another. It can be difficult to pinpoint your symptoms and even more difficult to figure out what is triggering them.
That's why, if you find yourself in a recurring loop of sciatica flare-ups, it is important to see your physician. There are many non-invasive and minimally invasive treatment options. There is no reason that you should continue to suffer needlessly.
Physical Therapy can offer alternative ways to perform daily living activities to minimize the pain and stress associated with chronic pain symptoms. Some people get immediate pain relief from epidural steroid injections because it significantly reduces the swelling and inflammation.
The closest thing to a cure for sciatica is reducing the sciatic nerve's inflammation by whatever means possible. Most of the time that can be done at home over a couple of weeks. But when weeks turn into months, please don't be afraid to seek treatment. You won't be sorry you did.