Leg nerve pain is a common symptom associated with compression of the sciatic nerve, which originates in the lower back and is the longest and widest nerve in the body. Along with leg pain, the set of symptoms known as sciatica can affect the lower back, the buttocks, the feet or the toes. Although traumatic injury can produce lower back nerve compression, it arises more frequently as part of the natural aging process. The reason for this is the anatomical components of the lower spine are subjected to a wide range of stress-inducing movements, all while supporting the majority of the weight of the upper body. Over time, the vertebrae, intervertebral discs, joints and other components can begin to break down over years of wear and tear. While not always symptomatic, degenerative spine conditions such as bone spurs or a herniated disc can produce symptoms if an adjacent nerve root or the spinal cord itself become compressed or irritated.
What leg nerve pain feels like
Most sciatica is experienced only on one side of the body. For example, compression caused by a bulging disc on the right side of the fourth lumbar level is likely to produce symptoms on the right side of the lower body. Severity and location of symptoms will vary depending on the site of the compression, but generally, leg nerve pain associated with an impinged sciatic nerve will be experienced as:
- Burning or shooting pain
- Numbness or tingling
- Weakness or difficulty moving
- Constant ache or sharp pain
- Site-specific pain
Treatment for leg nerve pain
In most cases, leg pain associated with sciatic nerve compression will improve over time. In the interim, the symptoms can be managed conservatively using pain medication, exercise, heat and/or ice packs or other nonsurgical treatments. However, if symptoms persist or recur despite weeks or months of conservative treatment, surgery may become an option. If so, contact Laser Spine Institute to learn how a minimally invasive, outpatient procedure performed using technology may help you find relief from neck and back pain.