Not everyone who has sciatica needs medical care. If your symptoms are severe or persist for more than a month, though, make an appointment with your primary care doctor.
What you can do
- Write down your symptoms and when they began.
- List key medical information, including other conditions you have and the names of medications, vitamins or supplements you take.
- Note recent accidents or injuries that might have damaged your back.
- Take a family member or friend along, if possible. Someone who accompanies you can help you remember what your doctor tells you.
- Write down questions to ask your doctor to make the most of your appointment time.
For radiating low back pain, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- What's the most likely cause of my back pain?
- Are there other possible causes?
- Do I need diagnostic tests?
- What treatment do you recommend?
- If you're recommending medications, what are the possible side effects?
- For how long will I need to take medication?
- Am I a candidate for surgery? Why or why not?
- Are there restrictions I need to follow?
- What self-care measures should I take?
- What can I do to prevent my symptoms from recurring?
Don't hesitate to ask other questions.
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions, such as:
Aug. 14, 2015
- Do you have numbness or weakness in your legs?
- Do certain body positions or activities make your pain better or worse?
- How limiting is your pain?
- Do you do heavy physical work?
- Do you exercise regularly? If yes, with what types of activities?
- What treatments or self-care measures have you tried? Has anything helped?
- Hsu PS, et al. Lumbosacral radiculopathy: Pathophysiology, clinical features and diagnosis. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed June 16, 2015.
- Sciatica. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00351. Accessed June 16, 2015.
- Levin K, et al. Acute lumbosacral radiculopathy: Prognosis and treatment. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed June 16, 2015.
- Sciatica. Merck Manual Professional Version. https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/musculoskeletal-and-connective-tissue-disorders/neck-and-back-pain/sciatica. Accessed June 16, 2015.
- Wheeler SG, et al. Evaluation of low back pain in adults. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed June 16, 2015.
- Shekelle P, et al. Spinal manipulation in the treatment of musculoskeletal pain. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed June 16, 2015.
- Acupuncture for pain. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. http://nccam.nih.gov/health/acupuncture/acupuncture-for-pain.htm. Accessed June 17, 2015.