This guideline covers assessing and managing low back pain and sciatica in people aged 16 and over. It outlines physical, psychological, pharmacological and surgical treatments to help people manage their low back pain and sciatica in their daily life. The guideline aims to improve people’s quality of life by promoting the most effective forms of care for low back pain and sciatica.
The recommendations in this guideline were developed before the COVID‑19 pandemic.
For advice on neuropathic pain not related to sciatica, see the NICE guideline on neuropathic pain in adults.
In December 2020, we added links to NICE guidelines supporting discussion with people about safe prescribing of opioids, in response to a Public Health England evidence review on dependence on, and withdrawal from, prescribed medicines.
This guideline includes new and updated recommendations on pharmacological management of sciatica.
These supplement the existing recommendations on:
- assessment of low back pain and sciatica
- non-invasive treatments for low back pain and sciatica
- invasive treatments for low back pain and sciatica
Who is it for?
- Healthcare professionals
- Commissioners and providers of healthcare
- People with low back pain or sciatica, and their families and carers
Guideline development process
The recommendations in this guideline represent the view of NICE, arrived at after careful consideration of the evidence available. When exercising their judgement, professionals and practitioners are expected to take this guideline fully into account, alongside the individual needs, preferences and values of their patients or the people using their service. It is not mandatory to apply the recommendations, and the guideline does not override the responsibility to make decisions appropriate to the circumstances of the individual, in consultation with them and their families and carers or guardian.
All problems (adverse events) related to a medicine or medical device used for treatment or in a procedure should be reported to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency using the Yellow Card Scheme.
Local commissioners and providers of healthcare have a responsibility to enable the guideline to be applied when individual professionals and people using services wish to use it. They should do so in the context of local and national priorities for funding and developing services, and in light of their duties to have due regard to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination, to advance equality of opportunity and to reduce health inequalities. Nothing in this guideline should be interpreted in a way that would be inconsistent with complying with those duties.
Commissioners and providers have a responsibility to promote an environmentally sustainable health and care system and should assess and reduce the environmental impact of implementing NICE recommendations wherever possible.