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Will My Sciatica Resolve on Its Own?

Jan 17, 2024

Persistent and “zapping” lower back pain can be a sign of sciatica, a common back problem in people between the ages of 30 and 50 years.  Whether or not sciatica requires specialized treatment depends on a variety of factors.

At Florida Pain Management Institute in Boynton Beach and Delray Beach, Florida, Dr. Adam Shestack, Dr. Cy Blanco, Dr. Joshua Powers, and their team of pain management experts identify underlying conditions for sciatica and treat your symptoms. 

How sciatica develops

Sciatica is more a collection of symptoms caused by an underlying condition than a stand-alone diagnosis. Your sciatic nerve is the large nerve in your lower spine that runs down into your hips and legs. 

If there is pressure on this nerve, you can develop moderate to severe back pain that feels like a sharp electric shock. You may also experience leg pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness.

Common causes of sciatica include bone spurs or herniated discs in your lower back. These can cause inflammation, resulting in chronic pain that doesn’t respond well to rest or over-the-counter (OTC) medication.

You could be at high risk for sciatica if you spend a lot of time sitting or standing without adequate physical activity, have poor posture, are overweight or obese, or have a condition that causes nerve damage.

How to resolve sciatica

Sciatica is unlikely to resolve on its own. Even medical treatment may only be effective if the underlying condition causing your pain is identified. While you may think that relief offered by OTC medications and a few days in bed can cure you because you start to feel better, as soon as you start normal activities again the pain is likely to return.

If your symptoms are severe and include any of the following, it’s time to see a specialist:

  • Pain that wakes you up at night
  • A burning, tingling sensation that shoots down your spine into your leg.
  • Numbness of your legs and feet 
  • Weakness that gets worse when you exert yourself

You may find that your pain goes away when you sit or lie down, but comes right back when you stand up or start walking. Pain typically also gets worse if you reach up high to get something or stoop or crouch.

Treating sciatica

A full diagnostic evaluation is the best way to see what is causing the inflammation and pressure on your sciatic nerve. If you have a herniated disc, we can treat that and likely alleviate your symptoms.

We start with the most conservative treatment possible. That might mean a few weeks of physical therapy (PT) to see if this helps. If not, and if we can’t find a specific underlying cause for your sciatica, we treat the inflammation using one or more of the following methods:

  • Oral steroids
  • Lumbar epidural steroid injections
  • Selective nerve root blocks

If you’re still in pain, we can discuss more measures to help resolve your sciatica.

To learn more, come see us at Florida Pain Management Institute in Delray Beach or Boynton Beach, Florida. Request an appointment online or over the phone by calling 561-331-5050 today.