Sciatica is a common problem, but that doesn’t mean it is well understood even in the medical field. We’re going to answer 10 questions that people commonly have about sciatica, so you can have a better understanding of what you are going through. At the end of our article, we will discuss a natural form of care that is bringing hope to many sciatica sufferers.
#1 Can Sciatica Go Away on Its Own?
Technically the answer would be no. That having been said, you may correct the underlying issue yourself through diet, exercise, or some form of care you seek like massage or chiropractic. While you weren’t intentionally seeking sciatica treatment, you got the care you needed and felt better, so the condition may seem to have resolved on its own.
#2 Will Sciatica Get Worse Without Treatment?
It depends on what the underlying cause is. If there is an underlying issue that has been causing damage gradually, then the damage will continue and sciatica will get worse. If the underlying cause was a sudden trauma that caused swelling and the swelling is going away, the problem may have only been temporary. This is another situation where you may relieve sciatica unintentionally through ice and rest. However, it is always better to get it checked out before things get worse, so don’t let sciatica pain go on for weeks or months without seeking care.
#3 Can Ibuprofen Cure Sciatica?
Using the term cure with a pain reliever is a slippery slope. Unless inflammation is the sole cause of the pain and your NSAID relieves the inflammation, the pain reliever doesn’t really cure anything, it just masks the symptoms. You don’t want to become reliant on pain relievers to care for a lower back condition. Long-term ibuprofen use can cause digestive issues.
#4 How Long Will It Take My Sciatica to Go Away?
The answer to this question depends on many factors including the underlying cause, methods of care you pursue, your overall health or accompanying issues, your lifestyle, and even your stress levels. For example, high levels of stress, conditions like diabetes, and smoking may all seem unrelated, but they do have one thing in common. They can all cause you to heal slower. Be patient with yourself and keep track of pain levels so you can gauge improvement as you try various methods of care.
#5 Once Sciatica Goes Away, Will It Come Back?
Again, the answer usually depends on the underlying cause and the form of care you pursue. If the problem is a spinal misalignment and you treat your sciatica with anti-inflammatory medications, you may feel better for a time, but the underlying cause hasn’t been addressed and pain will likely return.
#6 Should I Use Heat or Ice?
Heat and ice both serve their purpose when it comes to healing. Ice reduces inflammation. This can decrease pain levels and may even take some of the pressure off of the nerve. Heat encourages blood flow. This can bring extra blood and oxygen to a part of the body and speed up healing. However, it may also increase inflammation. A good rule of thumb is to use ice for inflammation and heat once inflammation is gone and you want to expedite healing. Since sciatica is usually more about inflammation than damage, ice is the preferred form of care.
#7 Are There Exercises that Can Help?
Yes! In fact, anything that strengthens your core will likely help. Cardio is also good because becoming sedentary will only add to the pain, especially if it results in weight gain. Speak with your health care provider to discuss which exercises are the best for you. He or she will also be in the best position to know what type of exercise routine would be appropriate for your current physical health level. You don’t want to overexert yourself and add an injury to your nerve irritation.
#8 Is There a Better Sleep Position for Sciatica?
Don’t sleep on your stomach if you have any issues with your spine (and even if you don’t because it could lead to them). Basically, sleeping on your stomach leaves the spine twisted all night long. Sleeping on your back is best, but a pillow behind your knees may help to take some pressure off your back and make it even more comfortable. If you sleep on your side, keep a pillow between your knees. This will prevent you from twisting your lower back during the night.
#9 Can Sciatica Be Caused by Trauma?
Yes, an injury can lead to sciatica. However, you may be surprised to learn that a common underlying issue is an upper cervical misalignment. When the top bones of the spine become misaligned, the rest of the spine follows suit. Your body is compensating to keep your head balanced. These changes can take place gradually, so a car accident that caused whiplash, for example, could lead to sciatica months or even years later.
#10 Is There a Natural Way to Relieve My Sciatica?
If your sciatica is being caused by an upper cervical misalignment, there certainly is. Upper cervical chiropractic care is a subspecialty in the field that focuses on the top two bones in the neck. Once misalignments are corrected in this location, many patients see a dramatic improvement in symptoms. To learn more and to find out if this is the right form of care for you, schedule a no-obligation consultation with an upper cervical practitioner in your area.
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