If you experience pain shooting down your legs, the most important thing to do is to ascertain the correct cause. Mis-diagnosis can lead to worsening of the pain, as well as time, money and effort spent trying incorrect treatments. The sheer number of possible causes of pain shooting down legs makes guessing at the cause an unlikely proposition, so you should seek expert medical health in addition to your own research.
Consider these common causes of pain that migrates down your legs, in order to get a gauge of what you may be feeling:
- Lower back pain after physical exertion, such as lifting heavy weights incorrectly, or helping someone move, may signal a spinal column problem.
- Chronic neck and/or back pain, which manifest itself especially when you’re standing still, sitting or bending over to reach for something – there could be micro-tears in the muscle tissue, which are weak as a result and cannot easily hold your spinal column together without tiring.
- Sometimes, joint dysfunction is confused for sciatic nerve compression because the lower back pain that results is so similar to the latter. However, the causes are not the same – which highlights, in particular, the dangers of self-diagnosis. If your sacrosiliac joint is not regulated (it allows too much or too little motion), then the pain that results can feel very much like a sciatic nerve compression.
- Simple, run-of-the-mill inflammation from arthritis can also be responsible for pain shooting down legs. The sciatic nerve doesn’t play a part in this, and noninvasive procedures generally work quite well in resolving this issue.
- The piriformis muscle is located in your buttocks and, when inflamed, can cause pain to radiate along the sciatic nerve, where it eventually translates to your legs. As with the above cases, this isn’t strictly a sciatic nerve issue; the nerve acts as the vehicle.
There are many more causes of pain shooting down legs than the above listed; these tend to be the most common. Some of the more serious, non-sciatic nerve causes of pain can result from spinal tumors, infection and certain syndromes – issues which can only be safely discerned by a qualified medical health professional.
Back Pain and the Sciatic Nerve
As with most parts of the human body, the back is a wonderfully complex region that hosts the sciatic nerve, which is the organ most pertinent to you if you have pain shooting down your legs. Medically, many causes of pain here amount to little more than a pinched sciatic nerve – whether it is being unnaturally pushed up against something in your lower back, or otherwise experiencing some irritation. Since the nerve runs down the butt and leg, you’ll more often than not experience varying levels of discomfort in this region.
The thing that separates direct issues with the sciatic nerve from other causes of lower back and leg pain is the difficulty in proper diagnosis. There are cases when, even after having surgery, back pain persists or returns in a different form. A new diagnosis is needed and, even if exercise is recommended by the surgeon, you should run an exercise program by your doctor to ascertain what would work best for you. In the case of sciatic nerve pain, proper exercise has been shown to drastically improve the prognosis – often right away. By accessing the available resources and treatment, you can actually thrive physically as your sciatic nerve issues recede.