When Does Acute Sciatica Become Chronic?

Dealing with the pain from sciatica can feel endless, which might make you wonder just how long this discomfort is supposed to last. But the difference between an average period of acute or chronic sciatica is challenging to distinguish.

Learning more about your pain, including parsing your experiences and what might be causing these issues, is vital to maintaining your overall health. What’s a typical amount of time for acute sciatica to stick around? When should you start to be worried, and when does sciatica become a chronic condition? We’ve broken down everything you need to know.

How Long Does Sciatica Last?

According to Harvard Health, sciatica will generally last between four and six weeks before dissipating. However, sciatica is classified as chronic after this time. Following more than six weeks of sciatica-related pain, the sciatica is considered chronic.

When sciatica is not yet classified as chronic, it’s considered acute. If you’re experiencing pain related to your sciatic nerve, you can be diagnosed with one or the other.

What Does Sciatica Feel Like?

Sciatica-related pain is primarily felt in the lower back, and this discomfort can spread to the lower parts of your body. This includes pain in your buttocks, through your thigh, around your knee, and down to your foot. But what does this discomfort and pain feel like, exactly?

You will commonly only feel sciatica-related pain in one leg or the other. On occasion, there will be feelings of sciatic pain in both legs, but this isn’t considered commonplace by most medical health professionals. This discomfort is also most likely to have a burning sensation or to feel like a shooting pain. That means the feeling can be disrupting to most people who experience it. Because of all the areas that can experience sciatic pain, this kind of pressure and irritation can cover significant portions of the body.

Sciatica might also feel numb as if you’ve lost the feeling in your lower body parts. That might also mean you have a tingling sensation or an overall sense of weakness.

What Helps to Relieve Sciatica Pain?

There are a broad spectrum of options to relieve some of your sciatica-related pain. From yoga to heat presses, there are a lot of strategies for you to try. Odds are, you’re going to find something out there which can help take the edge off of the discomfort.


Different stretches and exercises can help relieve some of the irritation you’re experiencing from your sciatica-related pain. Therefore, yoga poses targeting the lower back and other affected areas can be beneficial.

Try creating routines that focus on lower back and leg relief, including great positions like child’s pose, downward-facing dog, bridge pose, and cobra. Or, if you don’t know much about yoga, you can feel free to find pre-made plans targeting the affected areas.

Hot and Cold Compresses

Hot and cold compresses can be fantastic for pain relief, including the aches that sciatica forces upon you. Why is this the case? Switching between hot and cold encourages your body to increase blood circulation. That brings more oxygen and healing attention to the areas hurting you most.

The cycle that works best for you may not be what works well for others. However, it’s strongly recommended that you don’t leave your compresses on any particular spot for too long. If you’d like more information regarding the specifics, it’s a bright idea to consult a medical health professional.

Get Pain Relief Advice From the Health Professionals at Orthopedic & Laser Spine Surgery in Florida

If you’re dealing with pain from sciatica, whether acute or chronic, it’s best to consult a medical health professional to help ensure a swift recovery. We at Orthopedic & Laser Spine Surgery prioritize our patients by personalizing treatment plans to each individual. Dealing with chronic pain is incredibly difficult, but our spine surgeons may be able to make it simple for you. If you’d like to get more information from us, call OLSS at (855) 853-6542 or use our contact form.

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