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How to Tell if Your Sciatica Is Healing


10.26 - How-Do-You-Know-Sciatica-Is-Getting-Better

Sciatica is a common source of lower back and leg pain. While it is usually a temporary inconvenience, it can certainly be distracting. In fact, symptoms can sometimes be practically debilitating. Regardless of the nature and severity of your discomfort, it is safe to assume you just want the pain and related symptoms to go away. This article discusses how you can tell if your sciatica is getting better.

You Are Noticing a Change in Your Symptoms

One telltale sign that your
sciatica is getting better is when symptoms begin to vary. This simply means your symptoms are not as severe as they used to be. For instance, you might not wake up every morning with noticeable leg pain anymore. You may also have fewer pain flare-ups, or it might not be as difficult to go from a seated to a standing position.

Your Sciatica Pain Gets Worse before It Gets Better

This is referred to as “centralization,” which means the sciatic nerve reacts to irritation and compression with symptoms that are much more noticeable and disruptive. This is a general characteristic of nerve-based pain, and it happens because of the way a nerve reacts when it is first irritated. There is a disruption of nerve signals and impulses, which causes the classic sciatica symptoms, including:

• Sensations of cold water along the back of the leg
• Numbness, tingling, and pins-and-needles sensations
• Dull and/or sharp pain
• Muscle weakness
• Lower back pain

You Have an Increase in Lower Back Pain

When the radiating symptoms associated with sciatica start to go away, there is often an increase in lower back pain. This will pass as well, even though it is an inconvenience. Take solace in knowing it means your sciatica will soon go away. This is referred to as retreating pain, when the nerve pain goes away first and the
low back pain remains a while longer. However, it is normal with sciatica when the nerve is healing. As you wait for your sciatica to reach this phase, there are some things you can do to manage your discomfort, including:

• Applying cold and warmth with ice packs and heating pads
• Adjusting your posture
• Participating in physical therapy sessions
• Using anti-inflammatory medication
• Adjusting your sleep position or sleeping on a more supportive mattress

When to See a Doctor

Sciatica generally goes away after a few weeks. However, if you are not seeing signs your sciatic nerve is relaxing and returning to normal, it is time to see a doctor or a spine specialist. Signs it is time to take this step include:

• Your pain is becoming more severe and prolonged
• You are experiencing radiating nerve symptoms (e.g., numbness and tingling sensations and pain that extends to one leg)
• Your symptoms are disruptive enough to affect your ability to go about your day or do your work

In some instances, sciatica does not go away. This is more likely to be the case if the reason for your sciatica is a herniated spinal disc. If your symptoms are due to disc herniation and your discomfort is not going away after a few months, your doctor may recommend surgery.

Patients who have had discectomies for herniated discs may experience sciatica if their discs become reherniated, which often occurs if there is a large hole in the outer ring of the disc after surgery. Fortunately, there is a new treatment shown to reduce the risk of reherniation by closing the hole in the disc after a discectomy. This treatment is done immediately following the discectomy—during the same operation—and does not require any additional incisions or time in the hospital. Barricaid was proven 95 percent effective in a study of over 500 patients, meaning 95 percent of patients did not experience a reoperation due to reherniation in the 2-year study timeframe.


To learn more about the Barricaid treatment, ask your doctor or contact us at 844-288-7474.

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