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We frequently see cases of back pain accompanied by leg pain, especially cases where the patient also has trouble walking as a result of the leg pain. There could be a whole host of reasons as to why you might be getting leg pain, but we’re going to avoid talking about the cases that are not related to back pain. So if you’ve got achilles tendinitis and your ankle hurts, or if you’ve injured your quads of your thigh muscles from overtraining – then your legs might be sore. We’re going to more-so address cases where the leg pain is sciatica, or leg symptoms ranging from shooting or burning pain that can occur from the buttocks down the legs, into the shins or feet.

First and foremost, why does the problem occur? These symptoms, such as weakness, burning, tingling, pins & needles sensations or just plain old pain, can all be radicular pain. Radicular pain, also known as referred or nerve pain, is present in the leg when the problem is actually coming the spine. Treating the leg, the area of the pain, in this circumstance would not be effective in easing symptoms – instead in order to see lasting relief it’s important to identify where the nerve is being compressed in the spine and treat that area. The nerve root pain comes down from the lower back, into various parts of your leg. This most commonly occurs when you walk because the spine is a load-bearing structure, so when weight is applied to the spine when you have a misalignment, it compresses the spine to the point where the protective discs in between the vertebra can bulge and press on the nerve. The most common places for disc bulges to occur is either in the neck or the lower back, which is why nerve pain commonly affects your legs, or down the arms if the bulge is located in the neck.

If you’ve got an injury to your lower back, this will be irritating your nerves and sending pain down the legs. As the spine is naturally aligned in a way that allows it to resist the pressure of gravity effectively, and this for the most part allows you to go around and do the things that you want to on a daily basis. If your spine becomes misaligned, whether through poor posture adopted regularly, or an accident, your body fails to absorb the pressure of gravity effectively anymore. Those discs that protect your spine’s individual vertebra and keep your spine’s movement smooth and flexible, become squashed and wear much quicker. You might notice you start to get the occasional aching back, but it might go away within a couple of days and continue to recur again weeks or months later. You might also find you have stiffer muscles that usual. When the disc bulge starts to compress against the nerve, leg pain often then begins to affect your walking – and you might have shooting pains in your leg when coughing or sneezing.

So, what can you do? If you regularly wear high heels, try wearing flat shoes for a day. Make the same trip without the heels on. High heels send all shock absorption up to your spine, driving any pressure to your back and can irritate the problem further. Try taking small breaks when walking around, if you find the pain comes on after walking around for awhile try to plan breaks in your day. If you go shopping, try not to load up your back with shopping bags as it just presses more load through the spine and irritate your lower back. Pay attention to what you’re carrying – would you voluntarily carry an extra 10, 15 or 20 kilos for a couple of hours? Most people would expect to get some pain or aching if you were carrying that kind of extra weight for just 20 minutes, especially as you tend to compensate for the weight by walking differently which can put even more pressure on your spine.

If you do get a flare up in your back, use some ice on your lower back in the middle of your back to calm the excess inflammation. If you do this sooner rather than later, you’re going to be able to stop the pain spiralling out of control and turning into a much more severe form of sciatica. Remember, it’s an injury so giving it a break will be beneficial. If you sprain your ankle, you’re going to get crutches and probably avoid excessive walking – this is no different. If you’re getting symptoms down your legs then give your lower back a break and get some ice on it – around 5 minutes a few times a day. If the pain persists for more than a couple of days then you really need to make an appointment to see a specialist. Get an appointment with a consultant, like us, who will be able to assess your spine thoroughly and give you proper treatment and advice to make sure that you deal with the problem and have the strategies to prevent it coming back in the future.

We deal with back and neck problems day-in-day-out here at the clinic, so all of these bits of advice can really help you deal with the leg pain if it’s occurring due to nerve compression. If you have an injury specifically affecting your leg itself this is a different issue but the advice is not too dissimilar. If you’ve got an injury to your hamstring and you’ve strained it, don’t go and walk on it excessively. You need time to take a break and heal, then slowly reintroduce some of those activities that have previously cased you the pain. From then onwards if your muscle is feeling good, you can slowly increase the amount of stress you put on the structure.

We hope this article has been helpful for you, if you have any specific concerns or questions regarding your case please do feel free to get in touch with us. Call us on 0203 947 3222 or email us at info@themayfairclinic.com to speak with a member of the team or to book your first appointment. An initial consultation with the team includes a full, thorough examination, any X-rays if required, as well as a treatment on the day.

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