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What Causes Lower Back Pain That Radiates Down The Legs

Can Lower Back Pain Be A Sign Of Something Serious Like Cancer

Lower Back Pain That’s Radiating Down Your Leg in Tulsa OK

Lower back pain can be related to cancer. In fact, it is one of the first symptoms of prostate cancer when it metastasizes and creates lesions. Almost any cancer can spread to the back and some, like sarcoma, can originate in the back. Be cautious, especially if you are experiencing other symptoms besides lower back pain. Talk to your doctor if you have additional symptoms or concerns.

Still In Pain What To Do Next

If these interventions do not help and you still have unbearable back pain, you should contact your physician, who may prescribe you stronger pain medications, refer you for physical therapy, or complete other diagnostic tests such as an x-ray of your spine. Of course, you should also remember to take steps on a daily basis to prevent back pain, like doing exercises to strengthen your core muscles , maintaining a healthy body weight, and focusing on good posture.

Sciatica Pain Down The Leg In People With Tailbone Pain

Sometimes people with tailbone pain will ALSO have nerve pain that shoots down one or both legs.

Nerve pain shooting down into the legs is sometimes called sciatica.

About the sciatic nerve
  • The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve that travels down into the leg.
  • It starts in the lower back and buttocks region and travels down the back of the thigh and divides into the tibial nerve and peroneal nerve.
  • From there, the nerve fibers travel all the way down into the foot.
  • Nerve fibers from the sciatic nerve innervate various muscles, which can become weak if the nerve is compromised.
  • Nerve fibers from the sciatic nerve also innervate various sensory areas on the skin, which can become partially non-if the nerve is compromised.
  • There are multiple locations where the sciatic nerve can be compressed or irritated.
  • Irritation of the sciatic nerve can cause pain that shoots down into the legs. For example, irritation of the right sciatic nerve would cause pain down into the right leg, whereas involvement of the left sciatic nerve would cause pain down into the left leg.
  • Pain traveling down into the legs is commonly referred to as sciatica.
  • However, not ALL pain that travels down into the legs is actually caused by irritation of the sciatic nerve.
Causes of sciatica in people with tailbone pain:
  • Sciatica nerve irritation at the piriformis muscle.
  • The sciatica nerve passes directly underneath the piriformis muscle within each of the buttocks.
  • Nerve root irritation in the lower back.
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    Is The Weight Of Pregnancy The Reason Why So Many Pregnant Women Get Sciatica

    Its true that sciatica is common in pregnancy but increased weight is not the main reason why pregnant women get sciatica. A better explanation is that certain hormones of pregnancy cause a loosening of their ligaments. Ligaments hold the vertebrae together, protect the disks and keep the spine stable. Loosened ligaments can cause the spine to become unstable and might cause disks to slip, which leads to nerves being pinched and the development of sciatica. The babys weight and position can also add pressure to the nerve.

    The good news is there are ways to ease sciatic pain during pregnancy, and the pain goes away after birth. Physical therapy and massage therapy, warm showers, heat, medications and other measures can help. If you are pregnant, be sure to follow good posture techniques during pregnancy to also ease your pain.

    Sensations That Might Indicate A Medical Emergency

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    1. Sharp pain rather than a dull ache: This could indicate a torn muscle or ligament, or a problem with an internal organ in the back or side.2. Radiating pain: This pain “moves” or shoots to the glutes or legs, which could indicate a nerve compression condition.

    3. Sudden weakness in the legs: Limb weakness can be caused by compressed nerves in the spine due to conditions like sciatica or spinal stenosis. However, sudden leg weakness could also indicate a stroke.4. Incontinence: Back pain paired with inability to control the bowels or bladder might be a sign of serious nerve compression or a spine infection, such as discitis or meningitis.5. Numbness or pins and needles in the groin or glutes: This is known as saddle anesthesia and is also a sign of a serious nerve or spine condition.

    If you have leg weakness, incontinence, and numbness together, you might have cauda equina syndrome, a serious illness characterized by spinal cord nerve damage. This is a medical emergency, and patients usually need surgery immediately to decompress the nerves and reduce permanent damage.

    Related reading: Get help for back, neck, and leg pain caused by spinal stenosis

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    What Are Common Sciatica Symptoms

    Sciatica is the most common symptom of lumbar radiculopathy, a condition described as pain, and sensations such as numbness or tingling, muscle weakness, or poor reflexes found along the path of a nerve.

    Radiculopathy means irritation or injury to a nerve root that causes pain and other symptoms that radiate away from the affected nerve root. In the case of sciatica, usually the pain is felt as low back pain that radiates down the leg.

    Pain is the hallmark sciatica symptom. Although sciatica symptoms may be felt anywhere along the sciatic nerve, classic sciatica radiates from the low back into the butt, and down the leg to below the knee. In fact, your doctor will usually check for sciatica if you have low back pain. Less commonly, sciatica pain may be felt starting in the buttocks or hip area and radiates down the leg.

    Sciatica pain is often described as electric, burning, or sharp. The nerve pain can vary from mild to excruciating and can worsen when you bend down, twist your spine, or cough.

    Although you have two sciatic nerves , sciatica symptoms typically only occur on one side of the body. If you have radiating pain down both of your legs, it is less likely that the pain is caused by a pinched sciatic nerve, Dr. Wang says.

    In addition to pain, if the sciatic nerve is compressed, the muscles it serves may become weak. It may be hard to bend your knee, bring your thighs together , and point your foot and/or toes upward or downward.

    Does Hip Pain Cause Leg Pain

    Hip pain can sometimes be the cause of leg pain, but both are often part of a cluster of symptoms that are most commonly associated with spinal pathology. It is sometimes hard to distinguish if the low back, hip, or leg pain started first.

    If you have developed low back or hip pain and it goes untreated, hip pain can certainly contribute to leg pain. Even an old back injury that healed years ago can become aggravated and cause hip and leg pain.

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    Can You Have Sciatica In Both Legs

    Another form of spinal pathology is known as spinal stenosis. Stenosis means narrowing, and in this case, the stenosis is referring to the central canal of the vertebral column, where the spinal cord runs.

    In many cases, central canal stenosis can cause hip pain that radiates down the leg in both legs. Sometimes the pain stops at the knee, and sometimes it radiates further down the legs.

    This is sometimes called Shopping Cart Syndrome. This means that the hip and leg pain is often relieved by leaning forward, as if over a shopping cart. The pain typically is made worse by standing or walking for long periods, which put the spine in more extension. Flexion activities are the opposite of this and tend to reduce stress on the narrow central canal and provide relief.

    Is My Pain Sciatica Or Something Else

    Piriformis Syndrome – Cause of Radiating Low Back Pain

    Sciatica is a term used to describe radiating pain that travels along the path of the sciatic nerve, running from your lower spine through the buttock and down the back of the leg. It flares when the sciatic nerve is irritated or pinched by any of a range of problems in your lower back.

    The term sciatica describes radiating pain that travels along the path of the sciatic nerve, which runs from the lower spine through the buttock and down the back of the leg. Watch:Sciatica Causes and Symptoms Video

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    Radiating Lower Back Pain Questionnaire

    Use our free symptom checker to find out what’s causing your pain.

    Severe pain always gets your attention and keeps it there, making you wonder if there is something worrisome that is wrong.

    Back pain and outer hip pain area can be especially troublesome, causing you pain when you move, walk, and even when you sleep. Sciatic nerve pain is especially troubling, causing pain in the butt literally and shooting pain in the leg that begins in the mid buttock and runs down the back of the leg down to the ankle.

    We’ve put together a handy guide that will help you pinpoint the exact cause of your pain and know how seriousor mild, your condition is and to know if you need to get help immediately or see a doctor at your convenience.

    If you are concerned that the cause of your radiating back/hip/leg pain might be something serious, check the more serious possible causes of your pain below to see what doctors say about when to worry about radiating hip and back pain.

    You can also consult our handy back pain quiz, which will help you use your symptoms to diagnose possible causes for your pain.

    Slump Test For Sciatica

    A relatively simple tests for a pinched sciatic nerve can be done at home, if you are experiencing lower back and leg pain. Interpretation of the results of the Slump Test for sciatica can be a lot more difficult though it’s work for the experienced clinician.

    Test the muscles in your leg

    In just two minutes with the aid of a kitchen chair only, you will know if you have paresis in the leg.

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    Lower Back Pain: What Could It Be

    Do you have lower back pain? You are not alone. Anyone can experience lower back pain at any time, even if you dont have a prior injury or any of the risk factors. It is not always serious and can often get better on its own. But in some cases pain is your bodys way of telling you that something isnt right.

    Learn more about lower back pain and what causes it from rehabilitation physician Akhil Chhatre, M.D., who specializes in back pain in the Johns Hopkins Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.

    Leg Pain And Numbness: What Might These Symptoms Mean

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    Leg pain can be intermittent or constant and can range from a dull ache to a searing, throbbing, or burning sensation. Numbness may be felt like a loss of sensation or a cold, icy feeling in one or more areas of the leg.

    Leg pain may be the symptom of a variety of underlying causes or conditions, and getting a correct diagnosis is essential to informing the most effective course of treatment.

    Leg pain often starts as a problem in the lumbar spine, or low back. Watch:Sciatica Causes and Symptoms Video

    This article provides an in-depth review of common causes of leg pain, along with prominent symptoms and progression of the pain.

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    Causes Of Piriformis Syndrome

    Your anatomy may be behind your piriformis syndrome. This is known as primary piriformis syndrome and occurs when you have a split piriformis muscle, split sciatic nerve, and/or an atypical sciatic nerve path.

    Secondary piriformis syndrome is far more common and is caused inflammation of soft tissues, muscle spasm or both, resulting in nerve compression. Direct trauma to the buttock can lead to inflammation, scarring and contractures of the piriformis muscle

    This might be the result of a major event like a car accident or a fall. However, the most common cause is likely the gradual tightening of the piriformis muscle due to poor muscle fitness. Activities, such as long distance running or prolonged standing without proper stretching and strengthening of piriformis muscle is a common scenario in patients with piriformis syndrome .

    What Does Sciatica Pain Feel Like

    People describe sciatica pain in different ways, depending on its cause. Some people describe the pain as sharp, shooting, or jolts of pain. Others describe this pain as burning, “electric or stabbing.

    The pain may be constant or may come and go. Also, the pain is usually more severe in your leg compared to your lower back. The pain may feel worse if you sit or stand for long periods of time, when you stand up and when your twist your upper body. A forced and sudden body movement, like a cough or sneeze, can also make the pain worse.

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    Distressing Symptoms Steady Decline

    Formuch of his life, Tyler has had pain of one kind or another. As a youth, hepracticed martial arts for 15 years and sustained shoulder damage as a result.In the U.S. Marines, he suffered a knee injury that never quite healed. Despitethose lingering issues, though, Tyler exercised and hit the gym five days aweek.

    Over time, Tyler also developed sciatica nerve pain throughout his right leg. Then in spring 2015, Tyler started falling at work a dangerous proposition for him because his position as an aerospace research and development technician occasionally had him walking on the wings of aircraft.

    Tyler, who lives with his wife and three children in the small town of Aragon, Georgia, sought medical advice and had an MRI in an effort to diagnose the reason for the falls. He was told that the muscles in his right shin and ankle had atrophied, causing him to develop foot drop the inability to lift the front part of his foot.

    That information didn’t fully explain all that was happening, however. So for nearly five years, Tyler visited the major medical centers within a half-day’s drive from his home seeking a more detailed explanation for his painful leg symptoms. He received several potential diagnoses, including the devastating neurodegenerative condition amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS. But none of them ever truly fit his symptoms.

    “My kids had gotten to the point where they wouldn’t ask me to do stuff with them because they knew it would hurt me.”

    Tyler McDonald

    How To Tell The Difference

    Radiating lower leg pain

    If you have leg pain without significant back pain, it can be hard to tell if the problem is your back or your hip. Vinita Mathew, MD, FAAPMR, is a physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist at Northwestern Medicine Integrated Spine Center. Here, Dr. Mathew explains what to look for and what to expect if you see your physician for leg pain.

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    How Is Sciatica Diagnosed

    First, your healthcare provider will review your medical history. Next, theyll ask about your symptoms.

    During your physical exam, you will be asked to walk so your healthcare provider can see how your spine carries your weight. You may be asked to walk on your toes and heels to check the strength of your calf muscles. Your provider may also do a straight leg raise test. For this test, youll lie on your back with your legs straight. Your provider will slowly raise each leg and note the point at which your pain begins. This test helps pinpoint the affected nerves and determines if there is a problem with one of your disks. You will also be asked to do other stretches and motions to pinpoint pain and check muscle flexibility and strength.

    Depending on what your healthcare provider discovers during your physical exam, imaging and other tests might be done. These may include:

    • Spinal X-rays to look for spinal fractures, disk problems, infections, tumors and bone spurs.
    • Magnetic resonance imaging or computed tomography scans to see detailed images of bone and soft tissues of the back. An MRI can show pressure on a nerve, disk herniation and any arthritic condition that might be pressing on a nerve. MRIs are usually ordered to confirm the diagnosis of sciatica.
    • Nerve conduction velocity studies/electromyography to examine how well electrical impulses travel through the sciatic nerve and the response of muscles.
    • Myelogram to determine if a vertebrae or disk is causing the pain.

    When To See A Doctor

    You should consult your physician in order to discuss the following options if your back pain worsens or persists. Together, you can decide what is best for you.

    • Referral for physical therapy: This can include an exercise program, appropriate stretching, and therapeutic massage.
    • Treatment of emotional conditions: Anxiety, depression, or insomnia can make any physical pain seem more intense. Sometimes antidepressant medication can reduce nerve pain.
    • Treatment of night sweats and night pain: Most conditions are exacerbated by poor sleep and may also cause poor sleep.
    • Procedures: You can discuss the benefit of steroid injections into the nerves of your back or possible surgery for ruptured discs.

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    What Causes Radiating Pain

    When a body part is damaged or diseased, surrounding nerves send signals to the spinal cord. These signals travel to the brain, which recognizes pain in the damaged area.

    However, all the nerves in the body are connected. This means pain signals can spread, or radiate, throughout your body.

    The pain can move along a nerves pathway, causing discomfort in other areas of your body that are supplied by that nerve. The result is radiating pain.


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