Can sciatica cause fluid retention? (+1 factors)

In this article, we will discuss whether sciatica may cause fluid retention. We will also discuss who is most susceptible to fluid retention due to sciatica and how to manage fluid retention caused by sciatica.

Can sciatica cause fluid retention?

Yes, sciatica may cause fluid retention. If the pressure on the sciatic nerve continues over an extended period, the protective barrier (myelin sheath) around the nerve can break down. Fluid may accumulate in the adjoining locations connected to the compressed nerve, especially feet (1).

In addition, limited mobility and an inactive lifestyle due to sciatic pain may cause fluid retention or oedema. Fluid retention is most probable in those cases when the sciatic pain is caused by a bone spur or herniated disc.

This blocks the typical flow of fluids in your body, leading to fluid retention. The fluid can extend some distance up and down the sciatic nerve from the point of compression and is often associated with swelling (2).

The best way to diagnose fluid retention in the lower extremities is to visit your doctor. Your doctor will diagnose if the fluid retention is due to sciatic pain or another underlying disease such as a kidney or heart problem. 

What does research suggest?

In one of the case reports, a 40-year-old woman presented with bilateral leg swelling due to fluid retention caused by severe sciatic pain. With chiropractic care, the woman had a beneficial outcome and a reduction in sciatic pain, fluid retention, and swelling was observed (1).

In another case report, a 35-year-old man experienced fluid retention, swelling and oedema along with sciatic nerve pain. The pain and fluid retention lasted for several weeks but later improved with physiotherapy (3).

Another case reported fluid retention and oedema associated with right-side sciatica in a 19-year-old male patient after an MRI. The patient was also diagnosed with sacroiliitis (inflammation of the sacroiliac joint) (4).

Who is more susceptible to fluid retention due to sciatica?

Certain factors and underlying diseases may make some people more susceptible to fluid retention due to sciatica, including:

  • People with cardiac disease, liver and dysfunction are more susceptible to fluid retention as compared to healthy individuals.
  • Certain antihypertensive, corticosteroids, and antidepressant medications, such as Wellbutrin and Cetalopram, may increase the incidence of fluid retention.
  • During pregnancy, the body holds more fluid than usual. This may cause fluid retention in the lower limbs.
  • People with obesity may experience fluid retention and swelling due to the extra weight they carry. Malnutrition may also cause fluid retention.

What are the other symptoms of sciatica?

In addition to fluid retention, sciatica may be characterized by the following symptoms:

  • Shooting leg and lower back pain,
  • Constant burning and tingling pain in the buttocks,
  • Difficulty moving the affected leg,
  • Numbness and feeling of pins and needles,
  • Changes in bowel and bladder control,
  • Leg swelling, and 
  • Sudden pain and weakness in the legs (5).

What other conditions may cause fluid retention with sciatica?

Some other conditions which may cause fluid retention when you have sciatica include (6, 7, 8):

Disease Reason Characteristics
Varicose veins Twisted veins lead to weakening of the blood vessels.   Fluid retention and pain in legs and feet.
Kidney disease Increased sodium and fluid retention due to kidney dysfunction Pain in the lower back and oedema in the legs.
Pregnancy Increase in blood volume to support the growth and development of the baby. Fluid accumulation in the body, especially feet and legs.

How to manage fluid retention with sciatica?

Managing fluid retention due to sciatica may require clinical intervention. Some of the useful methods include:

Talk to your doctor

If you experience fluid retention due to sciatica, consult your doctor immediately. Your doctor will offer personalised guidance and may prescribe antidiuretics under his supervision for the management of fluid retention.

Manage hydration and salt intake

Maintaining proper hydration and electrolyte balance is critical for flushing out extra fluid from the body to reduce fluid retention. Excessive salt intake may increase fluid retention, therefore you should cut back on salt in your diet.


You should increase your magnesium intake to help reduce fluid retention. Good source of magnesium includes nuts, leafy vegetable (spinach, turnip greens, and mustard greens), and whole grains. You may take magnesium supplements.

According to some studies, Vitamin B6 may decrease fluid retention and bloating. Some foods rich in Vitamin B6 include tuna, beans, chickpeas, and bananas. You can also take vitamin B6 supplements (9).

You should also take potassium-rich food (potatoes, spinach, avocado, and bananas) to maintain fluid balance and blood volume. You should limit your intake of carbohydrates such as pasta and white bread. 

Try leg elevation for relief

If you are experiencing fluid retention in your legs, simply elevating your legs for 30 minutes daily can help you with the swelling. Consider using compression stockings and avoid prolonged periods of sitting and standing.

As a pharmacist, I would advise you to take regular breaks and move around for a few minutes to reduce the buildup of fluid accumulation due to sciatica. Many patients can find relief from sciatica pain and associated symptoms through a course of conservative therapies.

Always discuss your symptoms with your doctor to get the possible solutions and clinical interventions. You should do exercise, go on short walks, and attend physiotherapy sessions to lessen the sciatic pain and possible fluid retention.

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