Health Blog

Top 10 Most Burning Questions for Sciatica


1) Q: How long will my sciatica take to go away?

A: It depends…it depends on YOU.

In general, sciatica takes 4 to 8 weeks to go through the first 2 phases of healing -no pain, all movement and strength back to normal.

It may take another 1 to 4 months to get back to all activities you want to do…depending on how active you are. This is the third phase of healing.

Here are 10 variables that determine how fast someone can heal from sciatica:

  • Overall health. Healthy people heal faster. Younger people heal faster.
  • Other health issues such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, tobacco use, alcohol abuse and body weight all influence healing rates…and make the time to heal longer.
  • People who consume more nutrients in their calories (Dr. Joel Fuhrman calls this “Nutrarian”) heal faster than those who primarily eat processed foods.
  • Rest levels. Our bodies need sleep and rest to rebuild. A lack of sleep slows healing time.
  • Stress levels. People who have high levels of stress heal more slowly.
  • Sedentary lifestyle. People who sit all day for work or to watch TV heal more slowly.
  • Those who follow advice and instruction from top level healthcare professionals heal more quickly than those who do not follow-through with care.
  • People who are highly aware of their daily postures and habits heal more quickly…because they can adjust habits such as sleep or sitting positions more quickly.
  • Readers heal more quickly. People with higher attention spans are more likely to be self-educated on a topic and more likely to follow-through with successful treatment.
  • People who think there’s hope tend to be more persistent and won’t let anything stop them.


2) Q: How long before I see improvements?

A: Most people we see in the clinic feel better in 2 to 3 visits…or within 1 to 2 weeks. If you go longer than 2 weeks without feeling better or moving better…you may be wrong about the cause of your sciatica regardless of what your X-ray or MRI shows.


3) Q: Can I be completely healed or will this come back again?

A:  Most people we see who complete the 3 Phases of Healing (meaning they no longer have pain, motion and strength are back to normal and they’re back to doing all the activities they want to do without pain)…they have a minimal chance the pain will return.

The stronger the person is…the less likely the sciatica symptoms will come back.

Your body is a bit like a car. If you take care of it, regularly change the oil and keep it running and fine tuned…little chance of break down.

If you ignore it…very likely to break down and be in need of repair.


4) Q: Do I need any special equipment?

A: At my PT clinic, Orthopedic and Balance Therapy Specialists, we use a minimalist approach…

We don’t use big, fancy, expensive equipment for sciatica…

The one exception may be for people needing traction. There is a machine (Saunders Lumbar Home Traction unit) which we find very effective for home use…for people who show signs their sciatica may be relieved with traction.

Otherwise, most exercises can be done with a simple ball, exercise bands and a safe place to exercise.

Our model focuses on world-class hands-on Physical Therapy, a table and some basic exercise equipment you can do at home or on the road if traveling.

This works best for most people.


5) Q: Should I use heat or ice on my leg?

A: The cause of most sciatica (pain, numbness or tingling in the leg) is in the lower back. Ice or heat on the leg will not change that.

Consider that sciatica is “inflammation.”

So if you’re inflamed…do you want to put heat on it and make it more inflamed?

Or ice to calm the inflammation down.

We have seen some people use ice on the lower back to calm down the inflammation temporarily.


6) Q: Which exercises should I do?

A: The best exercises for you depend on what the cause of your sciatica is.

We cover the 3 most common causes…

Herniated discs

Stenosis, arthritis

Pelvic or SI joint problem

Each has a series of gradually more advanced exercises.

So the key to picking the right exercise is to find the cause of your sciatica.


7) Q: How often should I do the exercises? And do I need to do them forever?

A:Most people we work with in the clinic for sciatica do the exercises at least once per day…every day.

Some will do them up to 3 times per day.

Doing the same exact exercises for years without changing could be a mistake.

In general, to get stronger, your exercise should progress and get more difficult.

With training your body adapts.

Keeping that in mind, there are 2 rules to training:

  1. Everything works.
  2. Nothing works forever.

This means that any exercise (although painful) may make you stronger.

But once your body adapts, it’s time to move on to something different or more challenging.

One of the best programs you can move on to once you complete the 3 Phases of Healing for your Sciatica is a consistent walking program.

People who walk every day have less risk of reinjuring their back and sciatica.


8) Q: What do I need to do for complete care? Am I going to relapse?

A: The best thing to do for sciatica, if you are worried about it coming back again in the future, is to complete all 3 phases of healing.

Phase One is where you focus on getting rid of the pain, numbness and tingling.

Where you focus on getting normal movement back and full strength is phase two.

Phase Three is where you go back to previous activities you want to do.

In our clinic, after we see a person who had sciatica…and they are now pain free and have full motion and full strength, we ask:

“What activities have you avoided in the past month that you want to get back to doing?” Some will say walking, or golfing or gardening…something along those lines.

And we’ll tell that person to take the next month or two and do everything you want to do that you could do before.

They keep doing their exercises at home to get stronger and stronger.

Most come back for a recheck appointment in 2 months and have no trouble at all.

Some do have a relapse.

We then take a look at the activity and at the program and help them get on the right track.

As mentioned before, people who are stronger recover more quickly…

So it’s usually only one or two visits before that person is on the right track again.


9) Q: How do I know the cause of my pain?

A: There are 3 common causes of pain…and here are some general guidelines for each.

People with sciatica from a herniated disc usually have pain bending forward, twisting, coughing or sneezing.

The sciatica pain they experience is usually sharp and runs specifically down the back of the leg…possibly into the foot.

Herniated disc sufferers are usually 35 years of age or younger.

People suffering from sciatica because of stenosis or arthritis usually answer yes to these 3 questions:

  • 50 Years of age or older?
  • Pain with standing or walking?
  • Relief with sitting?

People suffering with sciatica from SI Joint or Pelvic problems usually have pain with sitting for long periods.

The sciatica they experience is usually on the outside of the thigh.

Symptoms may include heaviness of one leg or feeling twisted.


10) Q: Which position should I sleep in?

A: On your back is best.

Next would be on your side.

Last would be on your stomach.

Regardless, an important key is to keep your spine in “neutral”. This means that it is not twisted to the right or left…but keeps the natural curve it normally has.

Pillows of folded towels can be placed under your knees, under your side, or under your feet to help you sleep in the least painful position for you.

Back Pain and Sciatica Workshop Reveals How to Naturally Heal Back Pain and Sciatica For Good Without Medications, Injections, or Surgery


To attend the Valparaiso Lower Back Pain and Sciatica Workshop, click here.

Click here for the Crown Point Lower Back Pain and Sciatica Workshop.

For the LaPorte Lower Back Pain and Sciatica Workshop, click here.


To your healthy back,

Arlan Alburo

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Our Reviews
Kathleen Pullins
Kathleen Pullins
22:34 27 Feb 20
Amazing therapists! So kind and patient! They helped me recover from my seventh concussion! No more nausea and 100% improved balance. I made a full recovery in 6 weeks!
Hile Originals
Hile Originals
02:11 31 Jan 20
My neurologist prescribed balance therapy, which was done here at OBTS. I was skeptical of balance therapy at first, but by golly, it worked! It helps that the staff is phenomenal and fun, which helps make therapy sessions a little easier. If I ever have other therapy needs, I will make a return trip here.
Chuck Hillier
Chuck Hillier
20:51 28 Jan 20
I'm in my 4th Week & the Results are Demonstrable ! Referred by my Doc and he's pleased as well. Very Welcoming & Pleasant Atmosphere.... Very Talented & Fun Staff. Chuck H.
Ruth Bowlin
Ruth Bowlin
18:31 22 Jan 20
All your people are very helpful and answer any questions I have enjoy the great help they have given me so can be active again
bill steinbrecher
bill steinbrecher
21:38 17 Jan 20
I enjoyed each visit at OBTS for each of my therapy sessions. They helped and I felt I was a part of a family as I got to know each of the therapists.
rodney dowell
rodney dowell
22:35 13 Jan 20
Ortho/Balance helped me achieve full movement of my knee after full knee replacement. Their Physical Therapy Dept. is exceptional.I have been to other PT CLINICS; but Ortho/Balance outshines them all by a Hundred fold. They are caring and they don't rush you through. I recommend them above all others, they truly the BEST. I was fortunate to have found them by accident. All the staff are great; but Joe Lucio is top shelf. He is attentive and doesn't hurt you Very gentle and gets the job done. THANK YOU ALL RODNEY DOWELL
Amber Verstat
Amber Verstat
19:17 19 Dec 19
Went in with the most horrible pain in my leg muscles. Staff (Joe worked on me) did a wonderful job helping with pain! I was about to just chop off my leg, honestly. Highly recommend!
Lou Donkle
Lou Donkle
18:47 19 Dec 19
5-stars for the hands-on staff, 1-star for the business policies regarding their high-priced laser treatments. I arrived on my first appointment with a prescription from my doctor for medicare-covered machine-therapy (iontophoresis and ultrasound) plus PT. After a 1-hour evaluation with a therapist, only THEN was I informed they do not offer the medicare-covered machine therapy prescribed by my doctor. Three different people eventually told me that my prescribed medicare-authorized treatment was not supported by medical research and they recommended laser therapy that was NOT covered by medicare and would cost me hundreds of dollars for a series of treatments.I was SHOCKED! I asked ... you mean a medicare-authorized treatment is NOT supported by medical research?! And you cannot provide me exactly what I came here to get?! And you waited until AFTER a 1-hour evaluation before you told me all that?! I was in total disbelief and felt terrible because of all the subtle but polite pressure that was put on me when all I wanted was what my doctor had ordered. Why did they need to make me feel so terrible? I just couldn't believe it.After I asked my questions, the "manager" was consulted several times and I was eventually informed that they COULD do most of what was prescribed by my doctor and it would all be covered by medicare. I felt trapped since I had already been there one hour so proceeded with the treatment. This is where the 5-star rating starts. All hands-on people were OUTSTANDING and the full course of PT fixed my issue 100%.My advice is to be very cautious if you are recommended treatments NOT ordered by your doctor. Otherwise, an excellent place.
Elaine Krause
Elaine Krause
18:18 11 Dec 19
I attended several of the Saturday workshops at OBTS to increase my knowledge as a yoga instructor. Noel’s informative presentations were tailored to meet the needs of those individuals who were present. I took advantage of the free assessment offered to the attendees, and chose to try PT to resolve a minor issue. The therapists did an excellent job correcting the problem quickly. Great team of professionals! Thank you!
Timothy Knopf
Timothy Knopf
20:18 30 Oct 19
Best therapy place around. I would recommend this place to everyone. They have the best group of therapists around.
Mitchell Udowitz
Mitchell Udowitz
20:43 27 Oct 19
I have been to two Physical Therapy places prior to finding Orthopedic & Balance Therapy in Valparaiso. While they were ok they don’t hold a candle to Orthopedic & Balance Therapy. OBT team works as one in harmony and they stay on top of the latest technology for their patients. Their team is so very knowledgeable and very friendly plus they generally care about what they are doing and it shows. They are concerned about the whole person not just the injury they need to be treated for.
Barbara Serynek
Barbara Serynek
18:52 03 Oct 19
The entire staff has been very pleasant, professional and accommodating. Both Kristen and Joe have given me the best massages. Kate and Kollin made sure that I was doing my excercises and helped to move things along. Feeling better every visit. I'm so glad that I chose Orthopedic & Balance.
Heidi Richardson
Heidi Richardson
17:00 19 Sep 19
I went to physical therapy not expecting it to do very much to help because that’s the way I approach everything with low expectations. Noel and his team have made my neck feel so much better that it puts me in a more positive mood each day and I actually feel more positive and more productive on a day-to-day basis..
Christine O'Donnell
Christine O'Donnell
16:26 14 Aug 19
I could barely walk into OBTS six weeks ago. I had very bad lower back and hip pain. The progress has been life changing for me. I always walk out of there with little or no pain. The staff, Laura, Dr Diane, Angie and, of course, Peggy, have taught me so much to keep my pain at bay. I highly recommend this team.
Nancy Guenther
Nancy Guenther
15:28 12 Jul 19
Absolutely awesome! My walking has improved 110%. And my pain level is zero. I highly recommend them. will be amazed how much better you feel.
Tracie Baxter
Tracie Baxter
20:24 03 Jul 19
This was the only place that could help with my TMJ. If you’re suffering from TMJ go see Noel! He really understands the condition. I no long have to deal with constant pain! The whole staff at this office is amazing and very welcoming.
Cindy Standiford
Cindy Standiford
21:33 28 Jun 19
The whole team is great!! I’m getting great care! I recommend Orthopedic & Balance for any issues you might have.
Joseph Mulholland
Joseph Mulholland
19:53 09 May 19
Amazing staff and amazing care. I came in barely able to stand up straight due to a back injury. After 6 weeks, I feel like brand new. Everyone was extremely helpful and easy to work with. Highly recommended!
Trool u
Trool u
19:44 24 Apr 19
I am a PTA student that was required 16 hours of observation time. I had the pleasure of completing my hours at this Valpo location. The staff is incredibly friendly. They were quick to make me feel at home. In a way I was sad to leave, but happy to continue on. I hope to eventually work in this field with a work family this caring and knowledgeable about their profession.
sharon Kramer
sharon Kramer
16:23 18 Apr 19
My experience has been a very enjoyable and rewarding experience in getting me to feeling better.The staff does a remarkable job and are fully qualified in their respective areas. The staff made it fun coming here and they were very caring and helpful with their clients!!
Tim Nash
Tim Nash
15:32 27 Aug 18
My first experience with OBTS was very positive. During the course of my 13 therapy sessions I worked with many different therapists and all of them were professional and competent. They were able to help me effectively control my pain without medication using their therapy program. Unfortunately, they could not get my physical condition back to the same ability as before. However, this is due to the fact that it was later determined by my doctors that I required surgery. I plan on returning to OBTS for my post-op physical therapy and have already scheduled my evaluation appointment. Scheduling seems to be a challenge sometimes but that's probably an indication of their patient's satisfaction and good reviews. Thank you OBTS!
Arlene Gross
Arlene Gross
15:58 22 Jun 18
Everyone that worked with me was helpful. I enjoyed watching the staff interact as they worked as they laughed and smiled making me feel that it was fun to exercise. My knee pain is less and I look forward to having the same results with my back.
Jose Ico
Jose Ico
12:43 27 Apr 18
My wife and I have been coming here for a year. They have wonderful customer service and the treatments were great. I could say that since coming here for treatments, I am now able to walk properly and sleep well at nights. They help you in the best way possible. The people here are great and we definitely recommend it to everyone!
Paul Grant
Paul Grant
21:51 03 Apr 18
I have read lots of reviews that say "the entire staff of ..." is great, and you know that it is BS.. .. Butt at OBTS that statement is true. The person answering the phone, appointment setting they work around my schedule. It is truly a team concept. Everyone that has work with/on me keeps me focus on getting healthy to play golf.... Even those employees that haven't work with/on me are upbeat, positive and encouraging both their patients and me..... follow up phone calls, positive, hand written notes of encouragement, reminding me to do my homework so I can play golf this year. Great Employees, Great Business!.
Diane Burns
Diane Burns
02:30 16 Mar 18
I’ve had an incredible experience here at OBTS. In just two and half weeks I’ve seen and felt remarkable results. My hip mobility has improved by 30%. I credit the excellent physical therapists and the deep tissue laser therapy for my gains. I’ve gone from walking with a limp and pain everyday to walking normally and know that I’ll be back to running in the future. Every single person is warm and friendly here. Great place!
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