Back Pain

Sciatica: What It Is and How Long Does It Last?

How long sciatica lasts typically depends on the type of the underlying problem and how severe it is. Sciatica usually resolves in a few weeks or so, but certain medical conditions can lead to your symptoms lasting up to two years.

Continue reading to learn about the usual causes of sciatica, as well as when your symptoms may continue to persist and become chronic back pain. We’ll also share some common treatments and tips to prevent your back and leg pain from recurring or worsening:

Common Causes of Sciatica

Here are some of the most common causes of sciatica:

Overuse of Your Lower Back

When your lower back is repeatedly strained from lifting a heavy object, doing a hard workout, or engaging in other strenuous activities, the muscles in your lower back can become inflamed. In such cases, your sciatic nerve becomes pinched due to the inflammation.

Herniated or Slipped Lumbar Discs

Sciatica is also a common symptom of a herniated lumbar disc. Herniated lumbar discs are also known as slipped discs, and they are common in people who are relatively young. When a lumbar disc herniates, your sciatic nerve can be pinched, which explains the recurring pain you experience in your lower back and legs.

Lumbar Spinal Stenosis

When a spinal disc herniates or ruptures, it can put pressure on your spinal nerves, which can cause them to be pinched. If this condition is left untreated, the pressure can reach your spinal cord and cause you to experience sciatica.

When Can Acute Sciatica Become Chronic?

If the underlying cause of sciatica has not been treated, your sciatica symptoms may continue for up to six months or longer. If the cause of your sciatica has been treated, your pain can go away within four to six weeks.

Spinal stenosis is usually treated with surgery, but it can also be treated with traction or medication.

Tips on How to Treat Sciatica

If you have sciatica due to a herniated disc or spinal stenosis, you can use the following tips to relieve your pain at home:

  • Ice your back
  • Take pain relievers

You can also take these additional steps to treat sciatica at home when you have the condition due to a herniated disc or spinal stenosis:

  • Stretch regularly
  • Sleep in a comfortable position
  • Exercise regularly
  • Avoid bending and twisting
  • Use a hot and cold therapy system to relieve your back pain

Medical Treatment for Sciatica

If your sciatica does not go away on its own or you have chronic sciatica, you may need to see a doctor. Your doctor can use an injection to numb your sciatica or prescribe you medications.

Orthopedic surgeons can take an x-ray of your lower back to determine if you have a herniated or slipped disc. Your doctor may also order an MRI to confirm a diagnosis of a herniated or slipped disc.


Sciatica is a common symptom of a herniated or slipped disc. However, it is often caused by overuse of your lower back. Remember that sciatica can cause you to experience chronic back pain and sharp pains down your leg. You can use standard home treatment methods to help you feel better, but if those methods don’t work, you may have to see a doctor for a more effective treatment.

Rhythmic Health aims to help people face, handle, and solve health challenges like sciatica and chronic back pain and empower them to have more fulfilling lives. Try our online back pain program and find your healthy rhythm today!

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