Leg pain has many different causes, and while most people wouldn’t typically associate leg pain with back problems, there are several ways that the back has been linked to chronic pain in the lower extremities. If you are suffering from leg pain, a surgeon will be able to determine the cause of the pain, and create a successful treatment plan. Below are a few common conditions affecting the back or spine that often result in leg pain.
Lumbar Herniated Disc
A herniated disc can cause pain that will radiate through the sciatic nerve down the spine and into the leg and foot area. Pressure from the herniated disc tends to put pressure on the weakest part of the disc, which often affects the nerve. The pain associated with this condition will vary in severity and location depending on where the herniated disc has occurred. There are a variety of treatment options available that are non-surgical and can be used to alleviate pain in the leg and spine from a herniated disc.
Lumbar Degenerative Disc Disease
During the normal aging process, it is common for our vertebral discs to lose water and become dehydrated. This may also cause them to lose flexibility, degenerate, and allow for movement that can cause pain. While the most common symptom associated with this disorder is lower back pain, leg and foot pain are also very common. Leg pain can occur if the disc degenerates and the nerve root becomes compressed. Patients with this type of pain will usually describe it as a shooting pain in the leg.
Lumbar Spinal Stenosis
Stenosis occurs when the spinal nerve roots are compressed. This condition commonly occurs in elderly patients, though it may also be present in younger patients as well. The spine’s natural degeneration can cause stenosis in the spinal column. The best way to determine whether you are experiencing lumbar spinal stenosis is through an MRI scan. Leg pain associated with lumbar spinal stenosis may be described as radiating, tingling, numbness, or weakness. It will also usually develop and progress – gradually worsening over time. Patients often feel relief from spinal stenosis pain when they lean forward.
Spondylolisthesis or Slipped Disc
A slipped disc usually involves one of the vertebrae discs slipping forward over a lower vertebra, which can lead to a number of problems. Slipped discs often result in a nerve being pinched, which can lead to acute leg pain. The flexibility and stability of the spine are often compromised with a slipped disc, and patients are advised to seek physical therapy to alleviate symptoms. Fusion surgery is also used to treat a slipped disc if continued instability and pain are reported.