Leg Pain refers to any kind of pain that occurs between the pelvis and the heels. The pain may be intermittent or constant, occur gradually or onset suddenly and may affect the entire leg or a localized area such as the shin or knee.
Like any other pain this may be sharp, dull, numbing, tingling or burning in nature, acute or chronic and the serverity may range from mild to severe.
Leg Pain can be caused by a problem in the leg or it may be because of a problem in the lower back, where the sciatic nerve originates and travels down the path of the nerve, into the legs. Hence it is essential that while diagnosing leg pain, the lower back is also examined to get the diagnosis right.
When Leg pain is caused due to a problem in the lower back, it is usually accompanied by additional symptoms such as numbness, weakness or foot pain. The symptoms differ from person to person and might be a combination of these.
The most common lower back pain problems that cause leg pain are as follows:
The intervertebral discs tend to lose the water content and thus their integrity as a part of the natural ageing process. This results in loss of flexibility and thus pain that may radiate down the leg. The most common symptom of Lumbar DDD is Lower back pain which is sometimes accompanied by leg and/or foot pain. This leg or foot pain that accompanies the LBP is also called referred pain. This tends to be dull and achy.
When the intervertebral disc herniates, the herniated portion tends to impinge on a nerve root and cause pain that radiates the path along the sciatic nerve down the legs.
This occurs when the spinal nerve roots are choked as a result of enlarged facet joints in the back of the spinal column. The leg pain caused due to spinal stenosis tends to develop gradually over time.
This occurs when a vertebra in the spine tends to slip forward over the next, subsequent vertebra thereby impacting the stability and the flexibility of the spine. The instability causes may result in a nerve getting pinched thereby causing leg pain.
All symptoms of leg pain caused by the above listed causes is termed as sciatica. Leg pain may also be caused due to piriformis syndrome and sacroiliac joint dysfunction.
Minor Leg pain usually responds to conservative home remedies such as rest, ice/hot therapy, over the counter pain killers and elevating leg while sitting or lying down. However it is always recommended to seek immediate medical help if the pain gets progressively worse or if home remedies do not help over a few days.