Leg Pain



The causes of leg pain are many and varied. In this article, we will consider leg pain that is associated with back pain. Other types of leg pain will be explained under discussions of hip pain, knee pain, foot pain, and ankle pain.

Leg pain that is due to a back problem is caused by pressure on the nerves that goes to the leg. There are six spinal nerves that carry messages from various parts of the leg to the brain, where pain is sensed. When one of the spinal nerves is compressed or irritated, a message is sent to the brain from that part of the leg where the nerve goes. This can cause the sensation of pain, numbness, tingling, or weakness of the leg. Sciatica is the term used for this.


What kind of problems can cause Sciatica? One of the most common causes is a bulging, or herniated, disc. Since the nerve runs right alongside the disc, any bulging of the disc can compress the nerve and cause pain, numbness, tingling, or weakness of the leg, that is, Sciatica. Another common cause of Sciatica is thinning of a disc. Since the disc acts as a spacer that separates the bones of the spine, thinning of the disc causes a narrowing of the opening for the nerve, compression of the nerve, and Sciatica.

With advancing age, spinal arthritis can cause narrowing of the central canal of the spine, and compression and irritation of the spinal nerves, sometime causing Sciatica down both legs.

There are other less common problems that can cause, or mimic Sciatica. Sometimes a muscle strain or a low back sprain is mistakenly diagnosed as Sciatica. Patients regularly come to the office and say they have been told they have Sciatica and it has not gotten better. After careful examination, it is often determined that their problem is not Sciatica at all. Obviously, results can be much better when we determine the cause of your problem and render the correct treatment for your condition.