How Long Does Sciatic Nerve Pain Last?

sciatica nerve pain
If you’re dealing with a painful sciatica flare-up, you likely have one question on the top of your mind: How long does sciatica nerve pain last?

I have good news for you if this is the first time you’re experiencing sciatica pain.

Acute episodes generally resolve relatively quickly, usually within a few weeks.

But here’s the rub…

“If you don’t identify the root cause of your sciatica pain, there’s a high probability your first episode won’t be your last.”

And unfortunately, sciatica flare-up recovery time for subsequent episodes is much longer… and it requires more intervention and a far more comprehensive sciatica treatment plan.

That’s why it’s so important to understand the difference between acute and chronic sciatica, and how you can minimize your chances of further flare-ups down the road.

How long sciatica pain lasts: acute vs. chronic

Sciatica pain in back of leg

Acute sciatica comes on suddenly and resolves quickly, and usually responds well to self-care measures and home treatments.

(Please note: If your pain is severe and it’s accompanied by muscle weakness and/or loss of bowel or bladder control, you should seek the advice of a medical professional.)

Most mainstream medical doctors will recommend treatment options like over-the-counter painkillers such as NSAIDs.

NSAIDs, or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, include popular pain pills like ibuprofen or naproxen.

While these pain medications may help ease your discomfort in the short-term, they come with potentially serious side effects, including an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.

For short-term pain relief, you’re better off using a combination of natural pain relievers, and alternating between cold therapy and heat therapy.

For heat therapy, I highly recommend using a far-infrared heating pad. You can read more about why right here.

And most importantly, you need to identify the condition that caused the acute episode in the first place… I cover that more in the final section of this article.

Chronic sciatica is more problematic, but also treatable

Sciatic Pain

If the root cause of your sciatica isn’t addressed early on, the chances are extremely high that you’ll develop chronic sciatica: recurring flare-ups that last longer and require more extensive treatment.

It’s not a matter of IF you’ll have sciatic nerve pain again, it’s a matter of WHEN.

At that point, your doctor or healthcare provider may prescribe stronger painkillers, take a variety of imaging tests, or refer you for physical therapy.

In extreme cases, the treatment options become even more invasive.

That’s why it’s so important to not only treat the pain, but the underlying condition responsible for the pain.

If you don’t, you will likely find that sciatica is a lifelong condition.

And that means a life spent managing chronic pain.

To get rid of sciatica pain, fix this common underlying cause
The four conditions listed below are the most common causes of sciatic pain:

You can read more detail about each condition right here.

Here’s what I want you to understand…

Each of the four conditions I listed above has an underlying cause, too: muscle imbalances.

In fact, in nearly every case of sciatica, muscle imbalances are the primary cause of the pressure being placed on the sciatic nerve…

Don’t be surprised if you have not heard this from your doctor.

This treatment option will help you eliminate your sciatica pain

Back muscles

It took me years of research to learn the true root cause of most back pain issues (including sciatica).
Addressing muscle imbalances is the most important step you MUST take if your goal is lasting pain relief.

“Simply put, a muscle imbalance occurs when one muscle (or group of muscles) works harder than they should, while other muscles don’t work hard enough. This can eventually lead to sciatica nerve pain.” 

You see, the muscles in your body work in balanced symmetry — much like the wheels of a car.

When the wheels are out of balance, you’ll begin to notice uneven wear on the tires.

The car will start to pull to one side… you’ll get poor gas mileage… and you run the risk of doing permanent, of a complete tire blowout.

The same is true with the muscles in your body.

When some muscles don’t function as they should, the others have to pick up the slack. And that throws them completely out of whack.

And when your muscles are out of balance, they pull your bones and joints out of their normal position — and this places them under constant and uneven stress and strain.

And these muscle imbalances are the hidden cause of nearly every case of back pain you’re experiencing — including the conditions that lead to sciatica pain.

In the video below, I show you how muscle imbalances cause back pain.

(Want to fix your muscles imbalances now? Click here to learn about my Lose the Back Pain system)

Final thoughts

The frequency and duration of your sciatica pain depend on how and when you choose to treat it.

Sciatica pain is a symptom of larger underlying pain conditions (which I outlined above).

The key to fixing those root causes requires some lifestyle changes, which will benefit you in the long run in many ways.

Modern mainstream medicine suggests taking NSAIDs, such as Advil, to reduce sciatica pain, however NSAIDs can be dangerous to your health and they only address a symptom, not the cause.

For your sciatica pain to go away, you must identify and correct the muscle imbalances in your body.

I show you how to find and fix these imbalances in my Lose the Back Pain system.

Other lifestyle changes include changing your diet to eat foods that reduce inflammation in your body.

(Check out our 7-day anti-inflammatory meal plan right here)

These lifestyle changes may seem like more work than popping Advil every time a flare-up, but they will provide lasting relief from sciatica pain.

Ready to take the steps toward a pain-free life? Click right here to learn more about how we treat sciatica and other pain conditions.

Related content:

Sciatica exercises to avoid: do this, not that

Sciatica and constipation: what helps soften stools

The 4 causes of all sciatica

How exercise alleviates sciatica nerve pain

7 day back pain cure

Filed Under: Back Pain
Written By: Updated:

Jesse Cannone, CFT, CPRS, MFT Pain Relief Expert, Post Rehab Specialist

Jesse is the co-founder and visionary CEO of The Healthy Back Institute®, the world-leading source of natural back pain solutions. His mission as a former back pain sufferer is to help others live pain free without surgery and pharmaceuticals.

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9 thoughts on “How Long Does Sciatic Nerve Pain Last?”

  1. Sarojini Mangalam says:

    Does sciatic pain recur despite of doing exercise etc?

  2. Admin says:

    Hi Sarojini,

    We have written a free book regarding back and sciatic issues that you will find useful to read. It will help you to understand more about the back and to discuss various treatment options.

    Please read more about it and get your free copy via the link below.

    Thank you
    (The Healthy Back Institute)

  3. Steve says:

    Sarojini, sure it can, that is way there are always alternative or additional treatments that you should be ready, willing and able to consider, if such and event does accrue…

    That said, we believe that a well balance body it the best defense for future battles of any form of back pain or sciatica, and that is why we try so hard to get people to understand the concept of Muscle Balance Therapy… That is discussed in the book The 7 Day Back Pain Cure


  4. jessica says:

    How long after the pain from my sciatic nerve gets better can I start exercising again such as zumba and other exercises? I have been hurting for about a week but it is easing up and the pain is almost gone

  5. Steve says:

    Jessica, It really depends on your tolerance for that activity, that said, the conditions that are in place have are causing you to feel the pain did not just happen overnight, and there should be a concerted effort to address the root causes, in your body, working towards a more neutral balance and stable body will help you tolerate the stress of you day and help you participate at a higher level in any sport or activity you want to take part in… I suggest that you get Jesse’s book The 7 Day Back Pain Cure, that does talk about the causes and treatments for Sciatica. you can find the link to the book on the home page of this site


  6. Shaun says:

    I had spinal decompression surgery exactly 5 months ago for a trapped sciatic nerve. The operation was a success in surgical terms but I am still experiencing a lot of pain in my foot (burning and cramping). I am taking gabapentin to help the healing process and to combat the pain but this only dulls the sensation slightly. I do regularly stretching exercises every day. When can I expect things to improve ?

  7. Admin says:

    Hi Shaun,

    Thank you for your query.

    Please take a look at our free back pain book which will help you to understand the possible causes of pain and helpful steps for you to consider. You can read more about what is in the book by following the link below.

    Thank you
    (The Healthy Back Institute)

  8. Teri says:

    Wow!! This sciatica pain came out of the blue with me!! The pain is unberable at times. Hurts so bad,i can not cry. I am 62 years old, white female. does my age cause this ? Do i need to get a shot from my doctor? Pain medicine does not help at all, and i am talking about prescribed medication. I look terrible due to the pain. Hot baths’ do not help either. Makes it worse. Help me please, sir?

    1. Steve says:


      1. During acute flare-ups, ICE is always best over, heat at least during the first few days.

      2.Sciatica its self is a symptom not condition so best to go to the Doctor and get a specific diagnosis as to why you are getting the symptoms you are getting…

      3. In the meantime I suggest you get a copy of our Book The 7 Day Back Pain Cure were we talk about all of the different factors that go into having a condition like you do:



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