Talking to Your Healthcare Provider About Low Back Pain and Sciatica
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Talking to Your Healthcare Provider About Low Back Pain and Sciatica

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You have a unique medical history. Therefore, it is essential to talk with your doctor or healthcare provider about your personal risk factors and/or experience with low back pain and sciatica. By talking openly and regularly with your healthcare provider, 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 healthcare provider:

  • Bring someone else with you. It helps to have another person hear what is said and think of questions to ask.
  • Write out your questions 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, and make sure you understand what you are hearing. Ask for clarification, if necessary.
  • Don't be afraid to ask your questions or ask where you can find more information about what you are discussing. You have a right to know.

Specific Questions to Ask Your Healthcare Provider

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?

About Your Outlook

  • How do I know that my prevention or treatment program is effective?
  • Will I always be plagued by low back pain and sciatica?
  • Will the back pain worsen as I grow older?
  • Will I need to find a different job?

References:

Conn's Current Therapy 2001 . 53rd ed. W.B. Saunders Company; 2001.

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: http://www.ninds.nih.gov/ .

Textbook of Primary Care Medicine . 3rd ed. Mosby, Inc.; 2001.



Last reviewed February 2007 by Barbara Harty-Golder, MD, JD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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