Experiencing leg pain and numbness from time to time, such as when your leg falls asleep, is usually not a concern. But frequent or severe symptoms can interfere with your daily activities.
Pain and numbness in your leg can occur for a number of reasons, and it can range from a dull ache to pain that is sharp or throbbing. While problems in your leg can cause these symptoms, the underlying cause is typically a back problem.
Types of Leg Pain and Numbness
These symptoms can take several forms, such as a burning pain that travels down your lower back and leg on one side. In some cases, this pain can occur suddenly at various times, while in others, this burning sensation is a milder yet constant pain.
Other symptoms that can occur include numbness or tingling in the leg that lasts for long periods of time, a feeling of heaviness in the affected leg or foot that makes walking difficult, or pain that becomes worse when the affected leg is in certain positions.
Causes of Leg Pain and Numbness
The underlying cause of pain and numbness in the leg depends on a number of factors, such as the type of pain that occurs, how severe it is, how often it occurs and whether or not it gets worse with certain types of movements. These are some of the most common causes of leg pain and numbness:
Sciatica or Lumbar Radiculopathy: Sciatica is leg pain that occurs in association with lower back pain. The pain occurs when the sciatic nerve that runs down the affected leg is compressed, which can cause shooting pain or a dull ache that runs from the buttocks or lower back down to the foot. Sciatica is usually considered a symptom of an underlying back problem.
Lumbar Degenerative Disc Disease: Leg pain and numbness can occur with this condition, which develops as your spinal discs dry out and become worn with age. Lumbar degenerative disc disease also usually causes lower back pain.
Lumbar Spinal Stenosis: This condition occurs when nerves in the lower back become compressed, which usually happens with age. Pain caused by lumbar spinal stenosis tends to gradually become worse over time as nerves become narrower. Pain typically eases when pressure is taken off the affected nerves, such as by changing position.
Spondylolisthesis: This condition develops when a spinal bone, or vertebra, shifts out of position and covers another vertebra. Spondylolisthesis can cause leg pain that is persistent.
Lumbar Herniated Disc: This occurs when there is too much pressure on a spinal disc, leading to nerve pain that radiates down the lower back and affected leg.
Treatments for leg pain and numbness depend on the underlying cause. They can range from nonsurgical treatment methods, such as physical therapy, to surgical procedures to repair damage.
If you have leg pain or numbness caused by a back problem, contact Capital City Neurosurgery for an appointment with a neurosurgeon.