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Low Back Pain and Sciatica

In the UK, up to 60% of the population will expect to have low back pain at some point in their life. Around 20% of the population will consult with their GP to seek a solution for their lower back pain. Low back pain is defined as pain in the region between the bottom of the ribs and top of the legs.

Sciatica describes symptoms of pain, tingling, numbness, and occasionally weakness arising from impingement of nerve roots as they emerge from the spinal canal. This is normally felt from the buttocks and radiating to behind the knee. It is thought that between 5-10% of patients with non-specific low back pain also have sciatica.

Low Back Pain and Sciatica Treatment

A holistic approach is often needed to treat chronic low back pain with or without sciatica. Physiotherapy, modifications to work and home environment and psychological therapies are important aspects of patient care. It is also important to try and continue exercising as tolerated if advised by your clinician that it is ok to do so.

Medical therapy is dependent on the underlying cause of pain, as addressing the underlying cause is an important component of treatment.

For muscle and connective tissue pain simple painkillers are often first line treatment with stronger painkillers (e.g. codeine) used in conjunction in severe pain. For those with inflammatory arthritis they may be started on specialist medications that regulate their immune system by a rheumatologist.

Medicinal cannabis can be considered when first line therapies have not achieved adequate symptom control for their pain.