Extremity Pain

While pain may manifest in the arms, legs or other parts of the body, it can originate in the spine.

Leg Pain and Sciatica

Sciatica is a severe pain in the leg caused by compression, irritation, or inflammation of the sciatic nerves, which are thick nerves extending down the back of each leg. Each sciatic nerve consists of five smaller nerves that extend from the lower spinal column, and then join together and travel down the legs.  The sciatic nerves divide into tiny smaller nerves that ravel to the knee, foot, toes, calf, and thigh.

medical illustration of symptoms of the sciatica

Symptoms

People with sciatica can sometimes experience shooting pains down the leg and into the foot and toes, and other times a dull ache or numbness.  Sciatica is caused by many things.  Sitting at a desk for long periods of time in one position can exacerbate the pain.  Exercise can make the pain worse.  Tennis or golf and other twisting activities can cause sciatica pain to flare up. Sometimes, the pain may be in both legs, and other times it may alternate from one leg to the other.

Causes Of Sciatica

The sciatic nerve is very long, so there are many places along its length at which the irritation may occur.  One place is the lower back.  A misaligned lumbar vertebra can cause inflammation around the nerve, causing the pain.

Disc herniation can also cause sciatica.  Discs are the “shock absorbers” between the vertebrae of the spine.  They are cartilage-like cushions that occupy the spaces between the vertebrae which allow the back to turn and bend normally.