Why Does a Herniated Disc Cause Leg Pain?


September 25, 2021

The truth is that we all experience health issues from time to time. Lower back pain, for instance, is a prevalent condition that tends to sneak up on you when you least expect it. One minute you’re seated comfortably watching your television, and the next, you try to stand up, and an intense pain radiates through your lower back.

If you or a loved one have been experiencing this for a while, then you might have a herniated disc. Besides lower back pain, which is the most common symptom of this condition, patients also tend to experience leg pain.

Read on to find out everything you need to know about herniated discs.

What Is a Herniated Disc?

The backbone, also known as the vertebral column, is made up of bones that are separated by discs- small and round pillow-like structures that act as shock-absorbers for the spinal bones. The discs contain an outer layer known as an annulus surrounding a nucleus- a soft, jelly-like center.

A herniated disc occurs when the annulus is torn or ruptured, resulting in part of the nucleus being pushed out of the annulus. Consequently, patients tend to experience immense back pain and discomfort.

That said, some of the common symptoms of this condition include:

  • Sciatica: The herniated disc causes pressure on the sciatic nerve, leading to pain and a burning sensation in the buttocks, leg, and foot. This condition is known as sciatica.
  • Muscle weakness in your legs.
  • Numbness in the leg or foot.
  • Continuous or intermittent back pain that worsens with slight movements such as sneezing or coughing.
  • Changes in your bladder function.
  • Decreased ankle and knee reflexes.

How do herniated discs affect your legs?

Firstly, it is fundamental for you to note that a herniated disc can occur in any part of the spine. According to experts, the spine is divided into four parts:

  • Cervical spine: The first seven bones in the spine that are located in the neck.
  • Thoracic spine: The subsequent twelve spinal bones that are located in your chest area.
  • Lumbar spine: The next five vertebrae (spinal bones) located in the lower back.
  • Sacral spine: Finally, this is the lowest five vertebrae that are located below the waist.

That said, leg pain often occurs in patients who have developed a lumbar spine herniated disc. This is because a lumbar spine herniated disc usually causes damage to your lower back, leading to damage of certain spinal nerves.

Consequently, this causes inflammation of the nerves, thus sending pain signals down the leg. Besides the pain, other common sensations you may experience are:

  • Numbness of the foot.
  • Tingling.
  • Weakness of the leg muscles.

When Should You See a Doctor?

If your herniated disc causes some leg pain, then experts advise that you should first take some time to rest. However, if the pain persists for at least two weeks, then you should immediately visit your doctor.

Once this condition is diagnosed, there are numerous treatment options available for you. These include numerous non-surgical options, such as nerve block injections, physical therapy, and heat and cold therapy.

Contact Us

If you have been diagnosed with a herniated disc, then do not hesitate to contact Southeast Pain and Spine Care today. This is because we offer top-tier services, as well as effective treatment options. Therefore, book an appointment with us today on 866-228-1108.

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