Sciatica and Constipation: What Can Help Soften Stools?

Before you disregard what I’m about to say, I’m going to ask that you be patient.

I know you’re suffering from lower back pain or else you wouldn’t be at this website.

I also know that you will probably disregard any notion that the sciatica you suffer from is caused by constipation.

Let me be clear: constipation can cause sciatica. If you don’t trust me, check other websites. Doctors agree constipation is one of a myriad of causes of sciatica.

While you may think the bowels and the lower back are different parts of the body, it’s important to understand that all parts of the body are connected in some way or another.

What is sciatica?

If you have a pain in your lower back near the buttocks and that pain travels down a leg, then chances are you have sciatica.

Sciatica is a common lower back pain that doctors treat frequently. The pain is often characterized by feeling akin to a toothache, a combination of dull and sharp aches that create a feeling of pins and needles. Pins and needles are the most common pain experienced with nerves.

Sciatica results from sciatic nerve compression. Constipation is one of the few non-spinal conditions that cause sciatica. Even using the bathroom becomes a painful burden by irritating the sciatic nerve.

Sciatica happens when the sciatic nerve — the largest in the body — is compressed by external pressure. Women in child birth and men who carry wallets in their back pocket may experience sciatica.

Remember that sciatica is treatable If you’re experiencing constipation and lower back pain, ask your doctor to test you for sciatica. Doctors can test you with a CT scan, MRI, x-ray or nerve conduction tests.

Solving the problem

If you’re experiencing sciatica related to constipation, your first course of action should be a diet change. A fiber-infused diet full of fruits and vegetables relieves constipation. Also consider a fiber supplement.

Reduce the pain

While you wait for constipation relief, there are several ways to reduce pain. The first is to take aspirin or ibuprofen. Anti-inflammatory medications reduce nerve and muscle inflammation, alleviating nerve irritation. In the same way, alternating hot and cold compresses reduce the inflammation and soothe the pain. These can be applied to your legs if the pain travels down your body.

Also, consider a firm mattress to support your back and alleviate any sciatica that may also be resulting from back strain. Some doctors may recommend several days to allow the sciatic nerve damage to heal.

Rules to remember

No heavy lifting – sometimes no lifting should be done at all.

Move slowly when standing up or getting in and out of bed.

Don’t bend or sit in soft chairs. Support is paramount.

Don’t ignore the pain. Nerve pain either heals within a week or gets worse.

Nerves are not something you want to wait to heal.

Filed Under: Sciatica
Written By:  Updated:
my avatar

Jesse Cannone, CFT, CPRS, MFT

Jesse is the co-founder and visionary CEO of The Healthy Back Institute®, the world-leading source of natural back pain solutions. His mission as a former back pain sufferer is to help others live pain free without surgery and pharmaceuticals.

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28 thoughts on “Sciatica and Constipation: What Can Help Soften Stools?”

  1. Gillian Goodman says:

    After many years of suffering severe pain and discomfort in predominately my right side in line with my belly button, constipation and back, buttock and leg pains, other symptoms include loss of appetite and feeling sick, no feeling to evacuate bowels and generally weak. My Consultant told me I constipated IBS and put me on Bisacodyl, which seemed to be working, but the pain and constipation has returned. Is the pain in the back and leg pain linked. I have recently been constipated for 6 days, things have slowly started moving again, but the pain continues. I was given Co-dydramol,but I know this doesn’t help with the constipation,Can you please help?

  2. Admin says:

    Hi Gillian,

    A good starting point is for you to get a copy of The Healthy Back Institute’s back pain book. Education and understanding your pain and learning about your possible treatment options is key. To learn more please visit the link below.

    Thank you

  3. Kim says:

    I’ve noticed a relationship between constipation & my back pain for years, but most GPs and even Internal Medicine doctors have casually accepted or dismissed it. I also have IBS w constipation. The ONLY thing that has helped the constipation is a nightly dose of 500mg to 1000mg magnesium. I don’t cramp with magnesium. When I finally have a bowel movement, it takes about a day for the back pain to ease up.

    We are complex machines 🙂

    1. karen says:

      Amen! I have been taking magnesium (Calm) in the morning and a plant based calcium/magnesium tablet at bedtime. It really helps with constipation that I didn’t realize I have. That in turn has relieved the terrible sciatic pain. I also take a couple of aspirins daily as needed.

      We are indeed complex machines.

      1. Crystal Hill says:

        Thanks makes me feel sa little better how did it take the pain to go away once you stopped being constipated

  4. Edward A. Peacock says:

    I have suffered from sciatica for years, finally broke down and had surgery for a severely ruptured disc. I always noticed a decrease in sciatica symptoms after a good bowel movement. It makes sense that if women who experience sciatica symptoms because of the increased pressure upon their lower back, then anything that increases pressure in that region would tend to increase or aggravate sciatica symptoms!

    1. Rose Brown says:

      I knew nothing about the relationship of sciatic pain and constipation but I knew in my heart there had to be. Trying to pass gas or having a bm increases the pain so it must be related somehow! I have questioned doctors and they gave me no real answers as to why so much pain during the episodes. Maybe they don’t know!

  5. Edward A. Peacock says:

    And it does tend to follow, that if you have any condition that is worsened by straining, then constipation would surely tend to aggravate it!

  6. Yvonne says:

    I have been diagnosed cyatica.
    It starts in my lower back and seems to wrap around
    To my abdomin and down my leg. Is it normal to feel
    Constipated? When my meds take affect the feeling goes
    Away. I have had physical therapy for weeks and it helps
    For a little bit but the pain returns.
    I am thinking about seeing a chiropractor. Is this recommended?
    Thanks, yvonne

  7. Admin says:

    Hi Yvonne,

    Before you go to the DC please read our Back Pain Book as it will help you better understand your options and it will suggest to the Chiro that you are not the average client and they will have to present you with their best effort, here is the link:-

    Thank you
    (The Healthy Back Institute)

  8. Leah S says:

    I suffer from fibromyalgia and, therefore, also suffer from the side effects of chronic use of pain medications. My Dr recommended Lady Soma’s Probiotics supplement, but after trying a probiotic it really didn’t work, but the Lady Soma Fiber Cleanse did!

    I take 2 Lady Soma Fiber Cleanses twice daily and it has definitely consistently worked. Without this product, I faced having to reduce the dose of my pain medication (tramadol) to a less effective dose. Doing that would have greatly impacted my quality of life.

  9. Dr. Ben Green says:

    These are simple tips that anyone reading should follow. Nerves in the lower back-buttocks area are pinched due to a partial misalignment of your vertebrae which is causing the sciatica. Like what the article said, if your experiencing these symptoms, do not wait. I suggest seeing a chiropractor, who can properly assess your condition and give you a plan how to completely heal you of your sciatica and at the same time help you deal with the pain by helping you stretch and give you tips on what to do when you’re not in their clinic.

  10. Sharon Ferguson says:

    I had a blockage in my aorta and femerol arteries.I had aortic bifemoral bypass surgery I got neuropathy a couple years before the surgery due to lack of blood doc said if my nerves didn’t regenerate thier selves in a year they probably wouldn’t it’s been seven years. I do notice when I’m constipated the pain down my left leg is so bad my pain meds don’t even work.but as soon as I have a good bowl movement my pain is controlled so I believe there is a definite link between constipation and nerve pain

  11. Suzanne says:

    Had a R hip replacement mid Nov 2017.
    Due to use of pain meds, minimal usage in post op 2 week period, have had constipation up to present time.
    3 weeks ago pain in lower left abdomin diagnosed as Diverticulitis. Linzess given to ‘retrain’ intestine to cure constipation.
    Now nerve pain radiating down left leg along with continuing lower left abdominal pain….
    The pains surely must be connected. Both Ortho and Gastro Drs say diverticulitis common after this particular type of surgery.
    Is there anyone out there experiencing t he same thing? If so how are you dealing with it.
    Many thanks for any suggestions.

    1. Victoria says:

      I also have been trying to solve the riddle of lower leg pain and was interested to see if the pain was related to being unable to go properly took aloe very and had good result and now I will monitor myself to see if the leg pain is better. Currently waiting for xray results as doctor thinks its knee or hip.not convinced.

      1. Admin says:

        Hi Victoria,
        We believe education is key to addressing back pain issues and would suggest you please get yourself a copy of our book the “7 Day Back Pain Cure”.

        The book discusses back pain and related conditions, pain relief methods to try, treatment options for you to consider, pain relief action plans and other helpful information related to pain you may like to consider.

        Please read more details about the 7 Day Back Pain Cure book via the link below

        Our Best Wishes
        Admin (The Healthy Back Institute)

  12. Randy says:

    I got laid up with a severe, extremely debilitating bout of sciatica. I was prescribed maximum doses of various painkillers, (including morphine) and anti-inflammatories. They help with the pain for sure (I’d shoot myself if they didn’t) but cause big time constipation. I’ve noticed when I finally get to go, I will feel better than before the bowel movement. Eventually, of course, the constipation builds and more meds are required, worsening the constipation cycle. High fibre intake, stool softeners, and regular meal times are not really helping. I want to lose the drugs, but need them for the pain. HELP

  13. Dana says:

    I was diagnosed with a pinched sciatic nerve almost 2 weeks ago and went to my doctor and got a Toradol shot for pain & a steroid shot & didn’t help at all. Have been to chiropractor 3 times & still in major pain. I noticed your post stated don’t go for a week with nerve pain so I am not sure what options I have except keep going to Chiropractor for temporary relief.

    1. Admin says:

      Hi Dana,

      Thank you for explaining your pain. We would suggest as a good starting point that you get yourself a copy of our book the “7 Day Back Pain Cure”. We believe that education is key to seeking relief from back and sciatic pain and it will help you to consider options.

      The book discusses sciatica and back pain issues along with related conditions, pain relief methods to try, various treatment options you can consider, pain relief action plans and other helpful information for you.

      Please read more details and information about the 7 Day Back Pain Cure book via the link below

      Our Best Wishes
      Admin (The Healthy Back Institute)

    2. Roberto Marquez says:

      Did you resolve this? If so how? I have the same thing as you and can’t find a solution please help?

  14. Brian says:

    I unfortunately keep getting pain in the bottom of my back an right leg, i have varicose veins in this leg but dont see it being linked, i havent been to the docs as yet but have made appointment to find out what the problem is because its so depressing i have used excercises i have seen online to help which does temporarlily but always returns i have also noticed a problem with bowel movements whereas i have always been regular, my father suffers from IBS so could it possibly be hereditory? We also have an extremely soft mattress that you sink into which my partner is fone with but i think it could be part of the problem, any advice is welcome thank you.

    1. Admin says:

      Hi Brian, Thank you for your comment and questions. We not doctors, we can not speculate on any medical conditions, but in regards to your soft mattress we offer you this suggestion it works great, costs nothing and you will feel the difference overnight…

      Our Best Wishes
      (The Healthy Back institute)

  15. stugo says:

    Hi there,
    i have been drinking too much beer lately and straining on toilet probably through my diet,last week i got the worst pain ever in my lower back and within hours the symptoms of Sciatica have appeared,ie pain in left bum cheek and pain down left leg and tingling left toes.Docs prescribed Ibrupofen ect.Has improved very slightly in last day or so as i refuse to stop moving even though pain unbearable as 2 days ago couldnt get up stairs properly or walk more than 30 metres without left leg seizing up with major pain.Think i can walk for 10 minutes now but with sort of limp.I still cant sit on my left bum cheek but hoping will be able to once i get my act together with a healthier diet and cutting down on the beer.Basically i am almost certain caused by bad diet and straining on the bog? Good luck

  16. Thomas Giard says:

    WOW.. Same issues in my home. I have been a life long constipation sufferer. Never put the sciatic never with my problem But, after sitting any length of time it would take me 10 or so steps to be able to walk without stiffness. My entire life like that. I am 74 now. But now I am stuck limping around constantly from the sciatic pain and weakness in my lower leg, along with calf pain at night. I have always felt that some connection was involved with the constipation issue. I have begun really working on the constipation and what did I find out? My sciatic limp and nighttime pain are a thing of the past. You do have to watch what you eat. Junk in Junk out. I works. Just put the time into it and see how you will improve. Good luck.

    1. Admin says:

      Hi Thomas,
      It is so great to hear that you are taking control and watching what you eat to help yourself with the constipation and sciatica.
      You may also find our Book the 7 Day Back Pain Cure helpful to you. Please read more about it via the link below.

      Thank you. Our Best Wishes
      Admin (The Healthy Back Institute)

  17. B Elliott says:

    I have constipation due to hydrocodone meds for sciatica pain. It will start to feel better then after I have a bowel movement my sciatic pain is worse instead of better. Do you have any thought about why that is?

    1. Steve says:

      B, Well constipation is a huge problem with taking hydrocodone, adequate hydration is step number one. Step number 2 is consulting with your doctor and asking them is a Osmotic laxatives would be of help .

      There for both the sake of your constipation and your sciatica increase your physical activity.


      Steve HBI-Staff

    2. Teeny says:

      If you are straining during a bowel movement, or bearing down improperly, it can create tension in your pelvic floor muscles that contributes to sciatica.

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