Preparing for your appointment

By Mayo Clinic Staff

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:

  • 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?
Aug. 14, 2015