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Robin asked...

Hi. For about 5 or six days, I have been having quite severe pain in my right leg...

Hi. For about 5 or six days, I have been having quite severe pain in my right leg, some discomfort in lower back as well, but only when in bed. I am wondering if thus is sciatica. During the day when moving about the symptoms disappear.

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The answer

Thank you for your question and we're sorry to hear you have been struggling with pain whilst lying down.

The symptoms you mention could indeed be seen as sciatica, although there are other conditions with similar symptoms.

Sciatica is the name given to pain that radiates from the sciatic nerve, our longest nerve in the body. This is usually caused by compression of the nerve or when one of the vertebral discs “bursts” and leaks its contents on to the nerve.

Sciatica is usually self resolving without any medical intervention but in some cases requires a more complex pain management.

As general advice for any sciatica type of pain the following recommendations seem to provide some relief of the pain:

  • Using hot/cold packs on your lower back;
  • Keeping active and following a physiotherapy program to strengthen the area;
  • Taking over the counter painkillers (Paracetamol, Ibuprofen, etc.)

Considering your main complaint is when lying down it is worthwhile revisiting some of the basis for a good sleep:

  • A good firm mattress that provides support to your spine;
  • A pillow that keeps the alignment of your spine when lying down.
  • Some people find beneficial the use of pillows in between the legs to maintain the alignment of the hip joint. Usually one pillow in between the legs is enough.

Our advice is that you follow these recommendations and, if there is no improvement, contact your General Practitioner as he may be able to formally diagnose sciatica and give you further investigations/stronger painkillers.

Hope you feel better soon; please see more information on the link below.


Sciatica - NHS Factsheet

Representation of how to relieve the stress off your back whilst lying down


Answered by the Health at Hand nurses