Sciatica may resolve within a matter of weeks in some cases, but may take as long as several months depending on the cause of the nerve compressions, reports Spine-health. Treatment for sciatica includes physical therapy, epidural injections and surgery. Heat or ice therapy may provide immediate relief.
The majority of sciatica cases resolve within six to 12 weeks of beginning treatment, notes Spine-health. Heat and ice packs should be applied for up to 20 minutes at a time and repeated every two hours to reduce the pain associated with sciatica. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs reduce the pain and also reduce the inflammation of the nerve root. When these drugs are not effective, epidural injections of steroids can provide relief lasting from a week up to a year. Epidural injections provide pain relief in roughly half of sciatica cases.
Manual manipulation of the spine by chiropractors or osteopathic physicians may help prevent symptoms of sciatica, adds Spine-health. These therapies can properly align the spine and take pressure off the nerve root. Massage therapy increases circulation to the area and relaxes muscle spasms of the legs and lower back. Physical therapy can lessen sciatic pain and prevent future episodes; exercises are aimed at stretching the hamstrings and strengthening the lower back. Surgery may be required to resolve sciatica caused by herniated disks.