There are a variety of causes of leg pain. Some of the common causes include fractures,sprains, strains, sciatica, neuropathic and joint pain. Sciatica is the term to describe leg pain due to irritation or pressure on the sciatic nerve. It is also called lumbar radiculopathy refers to a disease involving the spinal nerve root. This manifest as pain, numbness, or weakness of the buttock and leg .
LEG PAIN CAUSES
Radiculopathy is a condition due to a compressed nerve in the spine that causes pain, numbness, tingling along the course of the nerve. It may occur in any part of the spine but mainly occurs in the lumbar and cervical spine. Most common in the lower back and in the neck.
The person doing heavy labor or in sports activities are more prone to radiculopathy than the person of more sedentary lifestyle. A family history of radiculopathy or disorder of spine may be the cause. Other causes are diabetes, trauma or degenerative disease of the spine.
Compression or irritation of spinal nerve caused by variety of conditions-
Piriformis muscle spasm or tightening
Herniated lumbar disc
Degeneration of disc
Fracture of lower vertebra
These are the common cause of leg pain. Sciatica nerve is the longest nerve in the body. It extends from lumbar vertebra in the lower back to the foot. Irritation or pressure on the nerve causes pain in the buttock and leg.
SYMPTOMS AND SIGNS
An initially patient complains of lower back pain that increases on sitting or forward bending. After few days severity of back pain become less and it radiates from lower back to buttocks and then up to the foot. Pain may be mild to moderate in nature. A patient complaining of burning pain starts from buttock and goes down up to the toes according to the involvement of sacral nerve roots. Patient feels tingling and numbness in the leg. Pain increases after long sitting or forward bending. Coughing and sneezing aggravate the pain. A person gets relief by a lie-down or after walking. In some cases loss of sensory and motor functions of the leg also. Sometimes in severe cases loss of bladder and bowel functions also there.
LEG PAIN DIAGNOSIS
Diagnosis of radiculopathy by medical history and physical examination of the patient. Then patient may be asked for imaging studies to look for a source of radiculopathy. Plain X-ray took first to look for osteoarthritis, trauma or infection in the spine. An MRI scan to see the problem in the soft tissues around the spine like ligaments, nerves, and disc.
LEG PAIN MANAGEMENT
In the management of leg pain, a multidisciplinary approach is working. In acute cases hot or cold fermentation for 20 minutes, 2 to 3 times in a day have some role. Bed rest recommend for one or two days after that you do your daily routine activities. Avoid twisting, forward bending or lifting heavy weight. Most of the people get benefit from conservative treatment. That may include analgesics, anti-inflammatory and muscle relaxants. Avoid activities that cause back strain and with physiotherapy. The majority of patients respond well to these measures and symptoms improve within six weeks to three months.
A role of exercise to prevent the recurrence. When the acute pain subsides then start strengthening and stretching exercises under supervision physiotherapist.
If no improvement in symptoms then interventional treatment with an epidural steroid injection given. If relief does not occur then surgery is the last option. The goal of surgery is to remove compression from the affected nerve.
To prevent recurrence of sciatica maintain proper posture during sitting or standing. Take balanced or healthy diet. Avoid long sitting or lifting heavy weights. Control your weight and consult your doctor as and when to require.