Talking to Your Doctor About Low Back Pain and Sciatica
Debra Wood, RN
You have a unique medical history. Therefore, it is essential to talk with your doctor about your personal risk factors and/or experience with low back pain and sciatica. By talking openly and regularly with your doctor, you can take an active role in your care.
General Tips for Gathering Information
Here are some tips that will make it easier for you to talk to your doctor:
- Bring someone else with you. It helps to have another person hear what is said and think of questions to ask.
- Write your questions down ahead of time, so you don't forget them.
Remember that every question you have may not be able to be answered with the first visit.
- Write down the answers you get. Make sure you understand what you are hearing. Ask follow-up questions, if necessary.
- Don't be afraid to ask your questions or ask where you can find more information. You have a right to know.
Specific Questions to Ask Your Doctor
About Low Back Pain and Sciatica
- What is causing my back pain?
- Exactly what is sciatica? Could my pain be from sciatica?
About Your Risk of Developing Low Back Pain and Sciatica
- Based on my medical history, lifestyle, and family background, am I at further risk for low back pain and sciatica?
- How can I prevent low back pain and sciatica?
About Treatment Options
- How do I best treat low back pain and sciatica?
- Will I need to have surgery?
What medications are available to help me?
- What are the benefits/side effects of these medications?
- Will these medications interact with other medications, over-the-counter products, or dietary or herbal supplements I am already taking for other conditions?
- Are there any alternative or complementary therapies that will help me?
About Lifestyle Changes
Should I engage in exercise?
- What kind of exercise is best?
- How often should I exercise?
- How do I get started with an exercise program?
- How can I find help to quit smoking?
- Do I need to lose weight? If so, how much?
- Do I need to stop participating in sports or other activities?
About Your Outlook
- How do I know that my prevention or treatment program is effective?
- Will I always be bothered by low back pain and sciatica?
- Will the back pain worsen as I grow older?
- Will I need to find a different job?
Acute low back pain. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:
. Updated October 25, 2017. Accessed December 27, 2017.
Chronic low back pain. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:
. Updated June 30, 2017. Accessed December 27, 2017.
Exercise therapy for chronic low back pain. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
. Updated November 27, 2017. Accessed December 27, 2017.
Sciatica. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:
. Updated May 8, 2017. Accessed December 27, 2017.
Tips for talking to your doctor. Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: https://familydoctor.org/tips-for-talking-to-your-doctor. Updated May 2014. Accessed December 27, 2017.
Last reviewed November 2018 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
Michael Woods MD FAAP
Last Updated: 12/27/2017