Adele reveals one of the discs in her back has 'worn away': What are sciatica signs and symptoms?

Watch: 'I have to waddle': Adele struggling with sciatica

Adele has revealed that one of the discs in her back has “worn away”.

The singer, who said earlier this year that she has been suffering from sciatica, gave further insight into her back issues during a recent show during her Las Vegas residency.

“Is anyone else kind of my age starting getting bad knees?” the singer asked the audience. “I have got really bad sciatica in my left leg and my L5 disc is not f***ing there anymore. It's worn away.”

It comes after the 34-year-old told Elle magazine last year that she slipped her L6 disc in January 2021, after her son Angelo jumped to scare her as she was coming out of the bathroom.

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The songstress had previously told Face magazine: “I slipped my first disc when I was 15 from sneezing. I was in bed and I sneezed and my fifth one flew out. In January, I slipped my sixth one, my L6. And then where I had a C‑section, my core was useless.”

She added that working on her core strength had helped her get more agile. “I’ve been in pain with my back for, like, half of my life, really,” she continued.

“It flares up, normally due to stress or from a stupid bit of posture. But where I got my tummy strong, down at the bottom, which I never had before, my back doesn't play up as much. It means I can do more, I can run around with my kid a little bit more.”

Adele poses with the Best Pop Solo Performance Award for
Adele said that one of her spinal discs has 'worn away' and that she has sciatica. (Getty Images)

What is a slipped disc?

A slipped disc – also called a prolapsed or herniated disc – is when a soft cushion of tissue between the bones in your spine pushes out, according to the NHS.

It might cause lower back pain, numbness or tingling in your shoulders, back, arms, hands, legs or feet, neck pain, problems bending or straightening your back, muscle weakness and pain in the buttocks, hips or legs if it's pressing on the sciatic nerve.

It usually gets better slowly with rest, gentle exercise and painkillers.

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What is sciatica?

Sciatica is when the sciatic nerve – the nerve which runs from your lower back to your feet – is irritated or compressed, according to the health service.

A bout of sciatica can last for up to six weeks or longer, and it can be painful to do everyday tasks and can even cause you pain while sleeping.

During her New Year’s Eve performance at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace, Adele told fans that the condition has affected her ability to walk.

“I have to waddle these days as I have really bad sciatica,” she said.

What is the link between discs in your back and sciatica?

As the nerves on the L5 vertebra – the disc Adele said has “worn away” – provides sensation on the outer side of your lower leg, if the disc is damaged or compressed it can sometimes lead to sciatica.

Adele has revealed the extent of her back injuries. (Getty Images)
Adele has revealed the extent of her back injuries. (Getty Images)

What are the signs and symptoms of sciatica?

The most common signs and symptoms of sciatica include pain, tingling, numbness or weakness in your bottom, back of your leg, or in your foot and toes.

It usually only affects one side of your body, and the pain in your back may be best described as a pinched nerve.

The pain usually worsens when you are changing position – for example, going from sitting to standing – or if you cough or sneeze.

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How can you treat sciatica?

While sciatica usually gets better by itself in four to six weeks, the pain during this period can be a lot to tolerate so the NHS recommends taking painkillers such as paracetamol to ease the pain.

It also recommends starting gentle exercise as soon as you can, holding a heat pack to painful areas, and putting a small, firm cushion between your knees when sleeping on your side to help raise the leg.

When you’re feeling better, it's thought that you can try to prevent sciatica coming back by working on your core strength, as a stronger core means less lower back pain. So it might be worth trying exercises such as pilates.

Consult a doctor if you have any symptoms of sciatica and before you take measures to help or prevent it.