If you’ve pulled a muscle in your leg or have a sprain or a strain, you know exactly why you hurt. But often, leg pain doesn’t present an obvious source, and you may limp along without getting it treated. Many times, the source can be traced to your back.
When that’s the case, Dr. Michael Hennessy at Texas Spine Consultants can help you identify the culprit and get you started on the right treatment path. If you let your unexplained leg pain go untreated, it can worsen and cause further damage.
How can my back cause pain in my leg?
Your lower back is a hub of nerves that branch out into a huge network throughout your legs, ankles, and feet. So, it makes sense that if you have a problem in your back that affects those nerves, the pain will radiate down the network and you’ll feel it in those parts of your body. This is called referred pain.
What back problems might cause my leg pain?
Several back conditions can send pain signals to your legs. Here are the top offenders.
Lumbar degenerative discs
In between the vertebrae in your spine, you have fluid-filled discs to cushion them and keep bone from rubbing on bone. Trauma and injury can rupture one or more of those discs, but it doesn’t take an accident to cause you disc trouble.
As you age, your discs dehydrate and may even degenerate to the point where they no longer act as cushions. In addition to making your back hurt, you may also notice less flexibility, less range of motion, and referred leg pain.
When one of your discs tears or ruptures, or if it slips out of place, your vertebrae no longer have protection. This means that neighboring nerves get irritated or pinched. Since those nerves run from your back, down your legs, and to your feet, you’re likely to experience pain there.
Your sciatic nerve starts in your lower back and runs through your buttocks and down the length of your leg. Common symptoms are numbness in your leg, weakness, tingling, and pain. It may hurt to sit, sneeze, or cough.
Not all back pain involves your sciatic nerve, but when it does, your leg will let you know. Herniated discs are one of the main causes of sciatica pain, and pregnant women are especially susceptible.
Spinal stenosis is the term used to describe a condition where your spine narrows for some reason. It could be the result of osteoarthritis, general wear and tear, or the aging process. Whatever the reason, it puts pressure on the nerves in your spine, which in turn sends pain, numbness, and tingling to your legs, just as in sciatica.
Just as a slipped disc can cause pain down your leg, so can a slipped vertebra. This is when your vertebrae are out of alignment, and have slipped either forward or backward. Spondylolisthesis can occur due to trauma, arthritis, or a congenital defect. If you have this condition, you may notice the pain in your leg gets worse when you stand.
Treat your back and stop your leg pain
Dr. Hennessy specializes in identifying exactly what’s causing your pain, so he can develop an accurate and effective plan of treatment that targets the source. He uses the most advanced technology to test and diagnose any spinal and nerve damage that may be causing your leg pain.
Treatment begins with a conservative approach, including physical therapy and massage, pain management techniques, and epidural steroid injections and nerve blocks.
If you have leg pain not caused by an obvious leg injury, call us today to schedule a consultation with Dr. Hennessy or book an appointment online. Soon, you can be back to a pain-free life.