Leg pain and the spine

Many patients with a spine condition in the lumbar spine (lower back) may experience leg pain that originates in the hip/buttock area and extends down the leg and into the foot. This is a common symptom of many lower back conditions, such as spinal stenosis, bulging disc and sciatica pain.

Associating leg pain with back conditions may not be your first instinct, but because of the way our central nervous system works, the two are often connected in more ways than one. In order to best understand the possible connection between leg pain and the spine, it is valuable to better understand the anatomy of spine and the surrounding central nervous system.

The central nervous system is composed of the spinal cord and the brain. This peripheral nervous system on the outside of the central nervous system works to supply the limbs with nerves. The largest nerve in the body, the sciatic nerve, runs from the lower back and through both legs. When this nerve becomes compression or impinged in the lower back due to a spine condition, patients will often experience severe leg pain, tingling or numbness. In other cases, the spinal cord itself can become compressed or impinged, causing radiating pain and symptoms as well.

Possible causes of leg pain

The first cause of leg pain is injury to the leg itself. Trauma, infection and other ailments can cause patients to experience severe pain that is not directly related to the spine. However, there are a number of spinal conditions that can cause leg pain as well. A few of these include:

  • Facet disease — As the cartilage that surrounds the fact joint deteriorates, patients may develop other conditions, such as bone spurs, that may irritate or compress the spinal cord or surrounding nerve roots.
  • Sciatica — Any compression or irritation of the sciatic nerve is referred to as sciatica.
  • Bone spurs — Smooth growths on top of the natural bone that may compress surrounding elements of the spinal column.
  • Degenerative disc disease — A herniated or bulging disc can infringe on the sciatic nerve or the spinal cord itself.

If you are experiencing leg pain that is radiating from your lower back to your leg, you should consult your physician to determine the source of your pain. If you are diagnosed with a spine condition, your physician can help you find a treatment option based on the location and severity of your condition.

Treatment for leg pain caused by a spine condition

If you have been diagnosed with a spine condition that is causing you to experience radiating pain down your leg and buttock, you may be recommended to under spine surgery to treat your condition. We encourage you to research all of your surgical treatment options before deciding on the right procedure for your needs.

At Laser Spine Institute we understand that your first priority is finding effective and efficient relief, which is why we offer a safer, more effective alternative to traditional open back surgery. Every year, more patients come to Laser Spine Institute for spine surgery than any other surgery center in the world. As the leader in minimally invasive spine surgery, we have helped more than 75,000 patients find relief from chronic neck and back pain.

If you are experiencing any of the pain or symptoms mentioned here, do not wait to find relief. Contact the experts at Laser Spine Institute for more information about our minimally invasive, outpatient procedures and take the first step toward recapturing your life from chronic pain.