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Sciatica (cont.)

When to Seek Medical Care

Call your doctor if any of the following conditions occur:

  • The pain is not improving after several days or seems to be getting worse.
  • You are younger than 20 years of age or older than 55 years of age and are having sciatica for the first time.
  • You presently have cancer or have a history of cancer.
  • You have lost a large amount of weight recently or have unexplained chills and fever with back pain.
  • You are HIV positive, or you use IV drugs.
  • You continue to have trouble bending forward after more than a week or two.
  • You notice weakness is getting more pronounced over time.

You should go to a hospital's emergency department if any of the following occur along with sciatica.

  • The pain is unbearable, despite trying first aid methods
  • The pain follows a violent injury, such as a fall from a ladder or an automobile crash.
  • The pain is in the back of your chest.
  • You are unable to move or feel your legs or feet.
  • You lose control of your bowels or bladder or have numbness in your genitals. These may be symptoms of cauda equina syndrome (a serious nervous system condition caused by damage to the nerves at the end of the spinal canal).
  • You have a high temperature (over 101F).
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/27/2014

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