Individuals who are experiencing leg pain and numbness may have a specific issue that originates in one or both legs, but the symptoms are usually caused by an injury or structural problem in the lower back. Isolating the type and frequency of leg pain and numbness may give clues to the source of discomfort.
Numbness and tingling that is felt throughout the legs is often indicative of sciatica. The sciatic nerve is a large nerve that originates in the lower back and branches off into two sections, resembling an inverted wishbone, that travel through the buttocks, down each leg, and into the feet. Many conditions of the lumbar spine such as bulging discs, spinal stenosis, and bone spurs can result in a compression of the sciatic nerve that causes painful symptoms and sometimes necessitates decompression spine surgery.
People who are experiencing a vague sense of pain in their lower extremities may be feeling the effects of degenerative disc disease. As individuals age, the gelatinous vertebral centers that serve as the spine’s shock absorbers begin to deteriorate. The process can result in small, painful disc movements that are felt in the lower back and legs.
Lumbar disc herniation can result in severe, shooting pain that fires throughout the lower extremities and feet. The symptoms may develop when a displaced disc compresses the sciatic nerve or nerve roots in the spinal canal. In cases where patients are experiencing severe pain or limited mobility, a surgeon may opt to perform a discectomy in order to release the constricted nerve.
Discomfort that starts deep in the buttocks, increases with a change of position, and radiates down one leg may be caused by an ailment known as piriformis syndrome. Unlike true sciatica that manifests itself from compression in the spinal canal, piriformis syndrome occurs when the piriformis muscle, located in the buttocks, compresses the sciatic nerve. The pain can be excruciating and keep the individual from being able to walk. Often, the discomfort goes away upon lying down. The treatment includes oral anti-inflammatory medications and specific exercises that target the affected region.
If leg pain and numbness are affecting your overall quality of life, reach out to The Spine Institute Center for Spinal Restoration. We have an excellent team of diagnosticians and spine surgeons who can determine the source of your pain and provide treatment options that align with your lifestyle. Call (310) 828-7757 today and schedule an in-person consultation.