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How To Tell If Your Sciatica Is Improving - 4 Signs

Sciatica can be a debilitating condition that causes pain, numbness, and weakness in the lower back, hips, and legs. It's usually caused by compression or irritation of the sciatic nerve, which runs from the lower back through the hips and down each leg. 

On your road to recovery, it is helpful to know if you are actually getting better. Here is how to know if sciatica is improving.

Signs Of Sciatica Improving:

  1. Decrease In Pain
  2. Centralization
  3. Increased Flexibility
  4. Improved Sensation

Covered This Post:

  1. Signs of Sciatica Improving
  2. How To Relieve Sciatic Pain
  3. What To Do If Sciatica Is Not Improving
  4. Sciatica Improving FAQ

Top 4 Signs of Sciatica Improving

1. Decrease in Pain: The first and most obvious sign of sciatica improving is a decrease in pain. If your pain level is decreasing, or if your pain episodes are becoming less frequent, that is a great sign you are on the right track.

It can be difficult to track sciatica progress over time, so it may be helpful to record a log of where your observed pain level is day to day (1-10).

2. Centralization: The second key sign of sciatica improvement is centralization. This means the sciatic symptoms shrink into a smaller and smaller area until they are local to the lower back and tailbone (in other words, "centralizing" to the nerve root).

Successful centralization means the pain, numbness, and/or tingling of sciatica are no longer felt in the foot and legs. Even if you still feel pain in and around the lower back and tailbone, sciatic symptoms moving away from distal extremities (feet and legs) is a sign you are getting better.

Signs of sciatica improving

3. Increased Flexibility: Another sign of sciatica improving is increased flexibility. If you are able to bend over, touch your toes, or move your legs in a way that you previously couldn't, it means that your muscles are becoming more flexible and your nerve function is improving.

Sciatica is often associated with muscle tension and guarding, so as long as sciatic symptoms are active your body may reject stretching and being flexible. If you are notice you have gained mobility, I would consider it a win and a sign your sciatica is becoming less severe.

4. Improved Sensation: Finally, an increase in feeling/sensation in the legs and feet is a positive sign of sciatica improving. If you previously experienced numbness or tingling in your legs or feet, but can feel your toes wiggle together, that is a great indication that your nerve decompression and function are improving.


How to Relieve Sciatic Pain:

Sciatica pain can be intense and debilitating, but there are several things you can do to ease the discomfort at home. 4 things we'll cover are staying upright, massage, stretching, and de-inflammation remedies.


1. Stay Upright: The first thing you can do is to stay upright. Sitting all day compresses the nerve while walking will help reduce inflammation.

2. Massage for Sciatica Pain: Deep tissue massage can be extremely beneficial for individuals with sciatica pain. When done right, massage can help release muscle tension, relieve pressure off the sciatic nerve, and improve blood flow to the area.

Deep tissue massage tools like the QL Claw are great for hitting deep glute and lower back muscles surrounding the sciatic nerve. (Also check out our page on How to Massage Sciatica Trigger Points.)

Piriformis - signs of sciatica improving

3. Stretching: Stretching exercises are an effective way to ease the pain of sciatica. Gentle stretches that target the lower back, glutes, and hips can help alleviate muscle tension and improve flexibility.

Muscles around the sciatic nerve such as the piriformis muscle can contribute to sciatic symptoms and piriformis syndrome. If you can gain range of motion - remember that increased flexibility is one of the bigger signs of sciatica improving.

4. De-Inflammation: You can also try heat or cold to the affected area. Many people find that heat helps to relax the muscles and reduce pain, while others prefer cold therapy to reduce inflammation. Hot and cold therapy have both been proven to show signs of sciatica improving.

In addition, over-the-counter pain medication can be effective in reducing the pain of sciatica. Anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen and naproxen can help to reduce inflammation and alleviate short-term pain.

Other Sciatica Relief Scenarios:

A couple commonly asked questions related to easing sciatica pain include - How to relieve sciatica pain while sitting and How to relieve sciatica pain in bed. Check out their respective links if they resonate with your case.

 How to relieve sciatica pain in bed - Signs of sciatica improving


No Signs of Sciatica Improving? - What to do:

If you show no signs of sciatica improving despite your efforts, it's important to seek medical attention. Your doctor may recommend physical therapy, Piriformis syndrome exercises, or other treatments to help alleviate your symptoms.

In extreme cases, surgery may be necessary to alleviate the pain and discomfort of sciatica. Surgery is typically reserved for cases where conservative treatments have failed or when there is a serious underlying condition at play causing sciatica.

In addition to medical treatment, lifestyle changes can always help to compensate for pain and discomfort and show signs of sciatica improving. Maintaining a healthy weight, having good posture, and avoiding activities that aggravate your symptoms can all help to reduce the severity and frequency of sciatica flare-ups.


Signs of Sciatica Improving - Final Word:

We understand the impact that sciatica can have on your daily life. By following the tips mentioned above, you can take steps to relieve the pain and discomfort of sciatica. However, if these measures do not show signs of sciatica improving, we encourage you to seek medical attention. With proper treatment and self-care, you can improve your quality of life and get back to doing the things you love without the limitations of sciatica.



How Does It Feel When Sciatica Is Healing?

When sciatica is healing you may feel less pain, centralized pain, more flexibility, and increased sensation in your legs. See the 4 signs of sciatica improving section above.

What Is The Last Stage Of Sciatica?

In the last stages of sciatica you may feel the pain becoming more and more local to the tailbone and lower back. This is a key sign of sciatica improving.

How Long Does It Take For The Sciatic Nerve To Get Better?

It depends on several factors (age, activity level, duration of pain, etc.). If you commit to sciatica relief exercises, you should feel at least some form of relief within weeks.

Does Sciatica Get Better Before It Gets Worse?

The sciatica improvement journey can feel like a roller coaster. Depending on your daily habits (sitting, lifting, etc.) you can have worse or better symptoms day to day. The important thing is to track your progress over several days or weeks, and continuing relieving sciatic pressure through the 4 sciatica relief steps above (stay upright, massage, stretch, and inflame).


Read Next:

How to relieve sciatica pain while sitting

How to relieve sciatica pain in bed




[1] Donnelly, Joseph M. Travell, Simons & Simons Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction: the Trigger Point Manual. 3rd ed., Wolters Kluwer Health, 2019.

[2] Davies, Clair, and Amber Davies. The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook: Your Self-Treatment Guide for Pain Relief. 3rd ed., New Harbinger Publications, Inc., 2013.

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