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Lower back pain is also known as sciatica is common pain that begins at the lower back and radiates downwards to the buttock and to the leg. Let us discuss Lower Back and Leg Pain Treatment.

It is often caused by pressure on the sciatic nerve from disc herniation, bone spurs or muscle strain. The sciatic nerves extend from the lower back through the buttock, hips and down to the legs.

Lower back pain may also be as a result of normal wears and tears of the body such as bad posture, bad lifting technique, excessive activity, and so on.

Lower back and leg pain may be acute or chronic depending on the duration of the pain. The pain that lasts for several days or few weeks is known as acute lower back and leg pain while the pain that lasts for more than 3 months is known as chronic lower back and leg pain.

Symptoms of Lower Back and Leg Pain

The sciatic pain or the lower back and leg pain starts from the lower back down to the leg. It usually affects one leg and the pain feels worse in the leg more than at the back. Symptoms include:

  • Mild ache or severe burning sensation
  • Sharp pain at the lower back or leg
  • Numbness in the leg
  • The weakness of the muscles of the leg
  • Difficulty to sit on your buttock due to pain
  • Numbness in the genital area
  • Loss of bladder or bowel function

Causes of Lower back and leg pain

Lower back and leg pain can be caused by different conditions. Mild and acute pain can be caused by regular activities such as lifting heavy objects, irregular bending or twisting, extreme physical activities. The sciatic nerve can be injured, irritated or compressed leading to pain. Below are known medical conditions that cause lower back and leg pain:

  • Herniated disc 

    A herniated disc is a ruptured or bulged disc. When the disc is bulging, it compresses the nerve which causes pain.

  • Trauma or injury 

    This is a common cause of lower back and leg pain. Patients may sustain injury or trauma from sport, car accident or fall from a height. All these could cause muscle tear and nerve damage leading to pain.

  • Stenosis 

    This is narrowing of the body canals and could lead to compression of the nerves.

  • Piriformis syndrome 

    This is the tightening or spasm of the piriformis muscle which leads to compression of the nerves.

  • Spondylolisthesis 

    This is a weakness in the facet joint that could lead to facet joint slipping out of a vertebra which may cause a pinched nerve.

  • Osteoarthritis 

    Aging causes discs to dry out and shrink. This leads to friction between each vertebra and causes bone spurs.

  • Arachnoiditis 

    Inflammation or irritation of the arachnoid can injure the spinal cord nerves leading to pain.

Diagnosis of Lower Back and Leg Pain 

Diagnosis of low back and leg pain can be done by careful examination of the pain area. A medical diagnosis can be done using imaging scans such as X-ray, MRI, or CT scan. The doctor will use these imaging scans to see the bones and know where the pain is emanating from.

Lower Back and Leg Pain Treatment

There are different Lower Back and Leg Pain Treatment options for lower back and leg pain depending on the severity and the cause of the pain. Mild pain can be treated using self-care methods while severe or chronic pains are treated using medical methods.

Lower Back and Leg Pain Treatment include:

  • Self-care

    Patients experiencing mild or acute Lower Back and Leg Pain Treatment can simply treat it by application of ice or heat to the pain area. The ice will reduce inflammation while the heat will reduce the pain.

Massaging the painful area also helps to release muscle tensions. Gentle stretches and flexibility exercises such as yoga help to increase the flexibility of the bones and release muscle tension.

After engaging in exercises, taking a rest for a few hours helps to relax the muscles and nerves. Stretching out on the bed and sleeping in a good position helps to reduce pains.

However, long hours of lying on the bed every day on a particular position might increase the risk of developing back pain.

  • Over-the-counter medication 

    Over-the-counter medication and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, aspirin, or naproxen can be used to relieve pain. The analgesic may be taken along with NSAID medications in cases of severe pain.

  • Steroids 

    Steroids injection such as lumbar epidural steroid injection, or facet injections is injected into the affected area to relieve or stop the pain. In cases of inflammation, injecting steroids also reduces inflammation. There are some steroids that can also be taken orally in the form of pills.

  • Physical therapy 

    Physical therapy includes different programs that are engaged in to help strengthen the muscles of the back and legs. It helps to relieve pains and help patients with difficulty in walking to walk properly. Your therapist will recommend the best program suitable for you based on your condition.

  • Acupuncture

    Acupuncture is inserting of tiny needles into the skin around the pain area. It is a Chinese method of relieving pains.

  • Chiropractic manipulations 

    Chiropractic manipulations are done by experts. It is the manipulations of the bones to align and fix them in the right position. The joints are adjusted and restored to their original positions.

  • Surgery 

    Surgery is the last option when all other treatment method has failed. It is rarely used unless in very critical situations. Severe conditions such as herniated disc, cauda equina syndrome could be treated by surgical procedure.

Prevention of lower back and leg pain

Most lower back and leg pain are caused as a result of the lack of things that individuals are supposed to do and also doing things that are not supposed to be done. Older adults are more susceptible to lower back and leg pain that is caused due to health conditions. Lower back and leg pain are in younger adults are due to certain lifestyles and daily activities.

Lower back and leg pain can be prevented by:

  • Always maintain a good posture when you are standing, sitting, sleeping or moving.
  • Follow proper lifting technique
  • Don’t lift objects that are too heavy for you.
  • Engage in regular exercises such as yoga and stretching exercises.
  • Stop smoking
  • Eat healthily and maintain a good weight
  • Take time to relax
  • Do not engage in excess activities