How long does a pinched sciatic nerve last?

A pinched sciatic nerve can come from many sources. If you twist while you’re lifting or if you bend forward and attempt to lift something far from your torso, you can cause a disc to bulge and put pressure on the sciatic nerve. If your sciatic pain or numbness is accompanied by bowel or bladder incontinence, extreme constipation, swelling of your leg or a change in the color of your skin on the affected limb, damage to the nerve may be severe and risky enough to require surgery.

Generally, a sciatic nerve flare-up shouldn’t last more than 4 to 6 weeks. As soon as you notice pain in the hip, buttock, or leg, contact your physician or chiropractor and get to work on reducing the inflammation that’s impacting the nerve. This may mean resting on your back with a pillow under your knees to take the pressure off your low back, or it can mean icing your tailbone for 15 to 20 minutes every couple of hours.

Make sure you set a timer so you remember to remove the ice pack. You can avoid the risk of injury from ice cubes by placing a wet hand towel in a Ziploc bag and freezing it flat. This icepack can be wrapped in a pillow case before you lay or sit on it. In a pinch, you can wrap it in paper towels and wear it around the house.

Icing the source of your sciatic pain will reduce inflammation, but it can cause you to feel a bit stiff. Talk to your chiropractor, physician or physical therapists about stretches you can do to work off the stiffness without causing further damage to the sciatic nerve.

A simple stretch that’s wonderful for your low back is to get down on hands and knees. Do this very slowly, as your feet may not move as quickly or accurately as you need them to do. Once you’re on hands and knees, lower your bottom to your heels and let your forehead fall between your arms. If this position feel OK, sweep your hands down to rest, palm up, beside your feet and lower your forehead as close to the floor as you can comfortably manage. Hold the stretch and just inhale and exhale for up to ten times, or whatever is comfortable.

When you’re ready to stand up from this stretch remember that your feet may not land where you intend. Try to do this stretch in such as position that you can reach forward, get support and stand without twisting.

Dealing with Muscle Loss and Chronic Pain

If your sciatic impingement lasts longer than a few weeks and you haven’t sought medical help, get some. Sciatic impingement can cause numbness or coldness in the extremity. This loss of nerve impulses can lead to a loss of muscle mass. The change happens slowly but can be quite destructive to your overall health.

As your muscle mass wastes away, you begin a downhill spiral. For example,

  • your gait may shorten, weakening your upper leg muscles in particular
  • You may lose the ability to rise from a chair without the use of your hands
  • pain may cause you to reduce your activities
  • extra weight gain can show up around your middle and put even more pressure on your low back
  • loss of core strength can make working your upper body painful
  • loss of upper body strength can lead to instability in your upper back as well.

If sciatic pain is causing you difficulty in sitting it can be hard to do your job. If the nerve damage is causing problems when you lay down, you won’t sleep well. If it hurts to walk, you won’t. Pain medications can help, but if you’re not addressing the pressure on the sciatic nerve, your pain meds are just masking the problem.

One of the biggest problems with chronic pain is that at least a small portion of your nervous system is always agitated and aware of your discomfort. Chronic pain can make you edgy and snappish with those you love, just because they asked a question or made a request while your brain was busy hurting.

Discuss these problems with your chiropractor. Seek out the help of a personal trainer or a physical therapist. Learn what exercises you can do, seek out regular chiropractic therapy as you strive to get the impingement to release and get control of your spine back in your own hands. We can help, call now at 205-637-1363 for an assessment and to start a treatment plan.

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