Last Stages of Sciatica

The last stage of sciatica is the chronic stage, at which point a patient may feel persistent pain. In this stage of sciatica, patients may feel more noticeable symptoms, such as pain that can hinder mobility, along with weakness, numbness, and tingling in the legs. Before your symptoms progress to this point, you should consider visiting a doctor for chiropractic treatments or physical therapy.

Your chiropractor and physical therapist can create a custom treatment plan for you, helping you feel better without surgery or medicine. They can help you understand your symptoms and explain the safest ways to improve your condition.

What Are the Three Stages of Sciatica?

The three stages of sciatica are the acute stage, subacute stage, and chronic stage. Here’s more about what to expect at each stage of your condition:

Acute Stage

The acute stage of sciatica occurs within the first six weeks. You might feel sudden pain in your lower back or hip extending to your buttocks or down your legs. Other common symptoms include numbness, severe pain and discomfort, muscle weakness, and numbness.

You can begin treatment with a physical therapist or chiropractor as soon as you notice symptoms. Some patients make an appointment immediately when they begin feeling pain.

Subacute Stage

At the six to 12 week mark, you’ve entered the subacute stage of sciatica. Your pain might not be as intense as it was during the acute stage, but you may still have a hard time with work or recreational activities.

Physical therapy can help reduce the pain and inflammation most patients experience during this stage of sciatica.

Chronic Stage

After 12 weeks of sciatica, you have likely entered the chronic stage. Here, your pain might fluctuate, meaning some days it is severe and debilitating, while other days it won’t hold you back from your daily life. However, during the chronic stage, your pain may be more frequent than it was during the early stages of sciatica.

You may decide to visit a physical therapist more frequently during this stage of your condition. Some patients may even need to undergo surgery to effectively treat their condition.

What Is Sciatica?

Last Stages of Sciatica

According to Cleveland Clinic, sciatica is the name for the pain that affects your sciatic nerve. Your sciatic nerve runs from your buttocks and down each leg, so you could feel pain anywhere around this area.

The cause of your sciatica will affect the duration of your condition. Some patients experience sciatica because of a herniated disc putting pressure on their sciatic nerve. Once your herniated disc is treated, your sciatica pain should begin to subside. Other patients suffer from severe sciatica and need surgical intervention to avoid bowel and bladder changes or leg weakness.

If you suspect you are suffering from sciatica, don’t wait to visit your doctor. Because this condition progresses in stages, it’s important to seek treatment as soon as possible to potentially avoid developing chronic sciatica.

Common Symptoms of Sciatica

You might be suffering from sciatica if you notice any of the following symptoms:

  • Pain along your sciatic nerve pathway
  • Achiness
  •  Sharp or burning pain
  • Pain that worsens when you sneeze, cough, or sit for an extended period
  • Pain that only affects one side of your body
  • Numbness or tingling in your leg or foot

Certain risk factors could make you more likely to develop sciatica. If you are between the ages of 20 to 50, or have a job that requires bending, carrying heavy items, or sitting for a prolonged period, you could develop sciatica. Other risk factors include being overweight and having diabetes.

How a Chiropractor or Physical Therapist Can Treat Sciatica

Many patients decide to seek sciatica treatment from a chiropractor or physical therapist in the early stages of their condition. Seeing a doctor for treatment right away could help ease your symptoms and reduce the chances of your symptoms progressing to the chronic stage. Some of the treatments your doctor may recommend include:

  • Spinal adjustments: During a spinal adjustment, a chiropractor fixes spinal misalignment. They will apply gentle thrusts or use chiropractic tools to help reduce inflammation and other problems that can lead to sciatica.
  • Massage therapy: This physiotherapy technique helps to ease tight muscles, create space between your joints, heal scar tissue, and importantly, release nerve compression. If you have sciatica, massage therapy can help relieve some of the pressure on your sciatic nerve.
  • Electrical stimulation (ES): Your physiotherapist will use magnetic pulses to reduce pain and heal an injury that might be causing sciatica.
  • Rehabilitation: During rehabilitative therapy, your physiotherapist can help you relearn how to function before you started suffering from sciatica.

Your doctor will create a custom treatment plan to target the source of your injury and reduce symptoms.

How to Prevent Sciatica

Though it isn’t always possible to stop sciatica from affecting you, there are a few ways you can try to prevent it. Your doctor may recommend:


Keeping healthy and ensuring your back stays strong requires consistent exercise. Your doctor can help you create a workout plan that will help you stay healthy without causing further pain or injury.

Maintaining Good Posture

You may be able to avoid sciatica by maintaining good posture, especially when you’re sitting down. If you have to sit for long periods at work, try choosing a seat with lower back support, armrests, and a swivel base. You could also create your own back support by using a pillow or blanket to support the curve of your back.

Avoiding Awkward Movements

Bending or twisting your back awkwardly can contribute to sciatica pain. If you have to lift something heavy, use your legs to lift to avoid straining your back. If possible, avoid lifting heavy items altogether.

How Does Physical Therapy Benefit Patients with Sciatica?

If you’re dealing with sciatic pain, physical therapy offers many benefits. For example:

  • It is non-invasive. Some patients may not be able to avoid surgery for severe sciatica. However, if you begin treating sciatic pain right away, physical therapy may help you avoid the need for surgery. If your doctor recommends surgery, you might visit a physical therapist for rehabilitation after the procedure.
  • It does not require prescription drugs. Many patients wish to avoid taking prescription painkillers because they can be addictive. Physical therapists and chiropractors won’t prescribe you any medications. You may decide to take over-the-counter medicines to ease inflammation and pain and visit a physiotherapist to treat your condition.
  • It may help you return to your daily activities quicker. Pain from sciatica might cause you to need a break from sports, your job, or any hobbies. However, with consistent treatment from a physical therapist, you may feel better faster.
  • It can help you prevent re-injury. If you’re dealing with sciatica because of an injury such as a slipped disc, your physical therapist can help you prevent injuring yourself again. They can teach you stretches and exercises you can perform at home to remain flexible and improve your range of motion.
  • Your treatment plan can be fully customized. There isn’t just one approach to treating sciatic nerve pain. Your doctor will work with you to create a custom treatment plan that helps ease the discomfort of your chronic condition. If there are any treatments you don’t feel comfortable with, your doctor can update your treatment plan at any time.

Preparing for a Physical Therapy or Chiropractic Appointment

Before visiting a physical therapist or chiropractor, you can prepare for your appointment by:

  • Being prepared to discuss your symptoms. It helps some patients to write down how they’re feeling so they can explain their exact symptoms to the doctor.
  • Wearing comfortable clothing that does not restrict your movement.
  • Bringing any documents your doctor might want to see to help them better understand your medical history.
  • Staying hydrated and eating a light meal or snack.

You can also contact a chiropractic or physiotherapy office near you to learn more about what to expect at your first appointment.

Call Naples Community Injury Center to Learn More About the Last Stages of Sciatica

The providers at Naples Community Injury Center are prepared to help you ease your sciatic nerve pain. We offer solutions to help our patients return to their normal activities as soon as possible. Our team won’t just treat your symptoms, we will create a plan that targets the root of your condition.

Contact us today to discuss your condition with our team. We will help you book your first appointment and explain how you can prepare for your first visit.