Sciatica is a painful condition along your sciatica nerve. The pain is caused by irritation, compression, or inflammation on your sciatic nerve, and it ranges from moderate to severe. The pain travels along the spine to your lower back, buttocks, and legs.
Although you have two sciatic nerves on your body’s right and left sides, sciatica affects only one side of your sciatic nerve.
If you’ve been suffering from sciatica for a while, you may ask, why is my sciatica not going away? Although you will get better, it does not happen overnight. So, patience is crucial when dealing with this condition. Healing depends on the individual.
It takes eight weeks to four months for you to perform your daily activities efficiently. Before we look at why your sciatica is not going away and ways to manage it, let’s first explore the causes of sciatica.
You need to understand that sciatica is not a medical ailment but a symptom of another disease. So, it’s important to note that any medical condition that exerts extra pressure on the sciatic nerve will result in sciatica.
Quick Facts About Sciatica
|● Sciatica is a painful and debilitating condition that affects your lower back, buttocks, and legs.|
|● Sciatica is not a disease but a condition that is caused by other underlying conditions.|
|● Sciatica does not go away if you keep doing the thing that caused it in the first place.|
|● Sciatica can be treated through medication, therapy, or surgery.|
|● Sciatica can go away on its own after several weeks or months.|
|● Make lifestyle habits if you do not want sciatica to keep recurring.|
|● Consult your physician if it does not heal on its own after a few weeks or if the pain is chronic.|
Causes of Sciatica
You have soft cushions in your vertebrae, and they act as shock absorbers. When these dry out, it can cause a crack in the disk’s exterior, allowing some material to press against your spinal cord or spinal nerves. This is what is referred to as herniated or slipped disk.
It is a painful and debilitating condition that affects the sciatic nerve, resulting in sciatica. It may not be painful if it does not press on any nerves, but that is rare.
A herniated disk can be treated through medication—such as muscle relaxants, epidural injections, nerve pain medication, narcotics, and cortisone injections. Or, you can go for physical therapy to minimize the pain.
But, if the symptoms are severe, you will have to undergo surgery to remove the protruding disk.
If you have a herniated disk, you should steer of doing heavy work as it increases the risk of the condition flaring up again. ,
If you have an infection in or around your spinal cord, it can lead to a swelling that harbors infected mass, referred to as mass.
This abscess can affect your spinal nerves causing sciatica. In the beginning, you will develop a fever and pain in other areas of your body.
If you have any growth in or around your spinal nerves, there is a high risk of experiencing sciatica. Some of the growth may be cancerous. And in other cases, it might be an epidural hematoma, a swollen blood spot near the spine causing you pain.
It is vital for a person with sciatica to seek medical attention to rule out cancer. It can be managed earlier if it is an epidural hematoma because it can be life-threatening if left untreated for a long time.
This is the narrowing of the spaces in your spine, and it can put pressure on your spine. This pressure travels through the entire spine affecting your neck and lower back. If you have spinal stenosis, you may experience pain, tingling, numbness, and weakness in your muscles.
It is common in people with osteoarthritis and is caused mainly by wear and tear in the spine. Surgery is essential to create extra spaces for your spinal cord nerves if you are having severe pain.
This is a rare type of tuberculosis that affects your lungs. It happens when you have an infection that results in an abscess that spreads to the sacroiliitis joints in your pelvis and lower spine.
When you are pregnant, a lot of pressure is exerted on your lower back. That is why you find that many women experience lower back pain.
It is recommended that expectant mothers wear a belt that will help relieve the weight of the fetus. They should also avoid lifting heavy items before and after giving birth.
How you live your life may increase the risk of getting sciatica or extend the healing time frame. Thus, you will find that people with risk factors are at a high risk of having chronic or recurring sciatica.
These risk factors include:
- Overweight/ obesity
- No exercise
- Prolonged sitting or lying down
Sciatica does not improve if you persist in doing the very thing that caused the original damage.
If you have an inflammation in or around your spine, it can trap your spinal nerves resulting in sciatic pain. If you have arthritis, you will notice that your sciatica flares when your ailments worsen.
So by treating your arthritis, you also treat sciatica.
Piriformis Syndrome occurs when the piriformis muscle extension gets injured or inflammation. And this may result in sciatica. The piriformis muscle connects the sacral spine to the femur.
It aids in the hip and leg. It is common in runners and athletes as they overuse their injuries resulting in the inflammation of the piriformis muscle.
So whenever you walk down or up the stairs, you will feel excruciating pain in your legs and hip joint. You can manage it by doing stretches, especially hamstring stretches, to release muscle tension.
Wear and Tear
As we age, our bodies undergo wear and tear, and the spine is not left untouched. This is why older people experience spinal stenosis. This can worsen or result in chronic pain.
So exercise is highly recommended in the older generation to avoid old-age conditions such as sciatica.
If your spine is not correctly aligned, especially for scoliosis, the higher the chances of sciatica. This is because this pressure may lead to slipped disk, increasing pressure in your sciatic nerve, resulting in nerve pain.
This can be managed using medications, physical therapy, or surgery.
- Pain in your buttocks
- Calf pain
- Muscle weakness
- Loss of muscle control
- Numbness in the legs and foot, especially on the skin
- Lower back pain
- Loss of bladder or bowel control. This is rare but once you experience it, seek immediate medical attention.
- Pain in one leg and numbness in the other leg.
Why is My Sciatica Not Going Away?
If you have sciatica, chances are you’ve tried several measures to relieve the pain. You might have used medication or visited your chiropractor and physical therapists. Unfortunately, the pain does not go away.
And this turns into a vicious cycle of treating a condition that comes back after a few weeks, making you live in discomfort.
Your sciatica may heal sometimes, but once you feel relief, you can go back to doing what initially caused the condition. This causes your sciatica to recur. So you ask, why won’t sciatica go away? It might be because of the reasons below:
You Might Be Doing The Opposite Of What The Doctor Recommended
Once you seek the help of your physician, they may recommend some measures to take to reduce the pain. But if you don’t follow the orders to the latter, your sciatica will not go away.
For instance, your physician tells you to apply ice on your lower back to manage inflammation and other sciatica symptoms. Instead, you use heat pads. This will worsen the inflammation as it increases blood flow to the area, enhancing the pain.
Your doctor prohibits you from doing certain activities that enhance the condition. Instead, you power through the activities such as running by using pain medication. This will only make your sciatica worse.
Pain is a way of telling your body to slow down, and when you stop those activities, the inflammation will go down, and your sciatica will heal.
A Combination of Ailments In Your Body
Sciatica is a symptom of various ailments in your body. For instance, it might be because of inflammation or spinal misalignment. To fight inflammation, you will have to make changes in your diet. Cut sugars, dairy, and grain as they exacerbate inflammation.
You also need to add vital nutrients to your diet; you take supplements containing fatty acids and vitamin D.
Due to Problem If Your Spinal Cord
Your spinal cord connects your neck, mid-back, lower back, and pelvis. And since the sciatic nerve is an extension of the spinal cord, it results in sciatica when there is a structural abnormality.
For instance, if your neck is affected due to an injury, it puts a kink at the top of your spine, leading to lower back pain.
Using Medication and Physical Therapy Instead Of Surgery
You should understand that not all sciatica pain can be managed using medication or therapy. Sometimes, all you need is surgery, especially if your spine is misaligned.
That’s why you should visit an expert to diagnose and develop a line of treatment.
Will It Come Back?
Sciatica may come back if you don’t treat the underlying ailment and don’t change your bad lifestyle habits.
A study was conducted in 2016 evaluating 341 people seeking non-surgical treatment for the lower back herniated disc. It found that 23% of the participants experienced leg pain again in one year, and 51% within 3 years.
They also found that 28% of the people with lower back pain experienced it again in a year and 70% in three years.
Exercises for Sciatica
If you have sciatica, you can use exercise to ease the pain. Kindly perform the following exercises:
You should always engage in low-impact exercises to prevent worsening your condition. Aerobic, swimming and walking are some of the exercises to include in your routine. They will help you keep fit and maintain moderate body weight.
Stretching helps loosen tension in your muscles. Especially your hip muscles. Use the 90-degree angle; you can do this with the help of a chair.
Lie on your back, lift your knees to your chest, and hold for several seconds, depending on your endurance. You can extend the time as your body adjusts.
Kneel on the floor and sit on your legs with your buttock. Then lift your arms and bend down and place your chest on the ground with arms extended forward. Hold for several seconds.
These exercises will help loosen your spine, legs, and buttocks, easing pain by relaxing your ligaments and nerves.
Preventative Measures of Sciatica
You should make the following lifestyle changes if you don’t want your sciatica recurring:
- Avoid lifting heavy items if you have back problems or adopting the wrong posture when lifting.
- Proper sitting positions
- Avoid lying down all the time
- Avoid smoking
- Eat a balanced diet
- Adopt exercise
When Should You Visit a Doctor?
If your sciatica has mild symptoms, chances are it will go away on its own after several weeks. But, it’s always good to seek medical help if;
- The pain is severe
- Interferes with your normal functioning
- It lasts for more than three months
- Keeps recurring
- You cannot control your bladder or bowel
- The pain does not go away after treatment
- If the symptoms start after an injury
Although sciatic pain is debilitating, sometimes it goes away on its own after several weeks or months. But if you find that the pain is not going away but getting worse, it’s time to consult a professional to diagnose and develop a treatment plan.
The pain from sciatica ranges from mild, dull, sharp, intense, shooting, and sometimes electric shock. Irrespective of the pain, it is best to adopt best practices. For example, stretch and avoid doing activities that worsen the symptoms.