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Lower Extremity Pain

Pain, Numbness, Tingling, and Weakness of the Lower Extremities


When a patient is experiencing pain, numbness, tingling or weakness in the legs or feet and they do not have a distinct injury in the same area, there are typically three possible causes for those symptoms. The first cause is nerve irritation. The second cause is decreased circulation or some type of blood flow problem. The third cause is musculoskeletal pain referral. In my clinical experience nerve irritation has been the cause of these symptoms a majority of the time. This page will discuss nerve irritation as a cause of lower extremity pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness. Click here for more information regarding musculoskeletal pain referral.

Skin sensation (pain, numbness, tingling) reflexes and muscle control are all controlled by nerves. Nerve damage or irritation can cause alterations with any or all of those three functions. An example of nerve irritation is hitting your "funny bone." When one "hits their funny bone," they are actually hitting a nerve that passes through the under side of the elbow. This direct pressure irritates the nerve causing numbness and tingling in the pinky and ring fingers, which are both areas where that nerve travels. The nerves in the leg are very long, traveling from your low back all the way to your toes. They can be irritated anywhere along their pathway.

Below are a few examples of possible causes of nerve irritation in the lower extremities.

Intervertebral Disc Injuries

As a nerve exits the spine it passes by the intervertebral disc. If there is a disc bulge, protrusion, or herniation injury the disc may be touching the nerve causing irritation. Even if the disc injury is not causing the disc to touch the nerve, it can irritate the nerve by crowding it. The disc injury may also cause a chemical reaction leading to nerve irritation. For more details about disc injuries click here.

What are a few possible causes of an Intervertebral Disc Injury?

  1. Auto accidents
  2. Falling down
  3. Using improper lifting techniques while lifting a heavy object

Traumatic Spinal Sprain/Strain Injury

As a nerve exits the spine and after it passes the intervertebral disc it then passes the spinal facet joint. If the spinal facet joints have been injured there can be excessive fluid from swelling that may apply pressure by crowding the nerve. There may also be tight or spasmed muscles that apply pressure on the nerve. For more details about sprain/strain injuries click here.

What are a few possible causes of a Traumatic Spinal Sprain/Strain Injury?

  1. Auto accidents
  2. Falling down
  3. Using improper lifting techniques while lifting a heavy object

Sciatica

Sciatica is a term used to describe symptoms arising from irritation of the sciatic nerve. Patients that are experiencing "sciatica" may feel pain, numbness, or tingling anywhere in the back of the leg (buttock, thigh, calf, and heel) or in the feet or toes. Sciatica symptoms are usually worsened by lifting, straining or coughing. The sciatic nerve is one of the largest nerves in the body. It starts in the low back where it exits the spinal cord and passes by the discs and joints. It continues into the buttock, then into the back of the thigh and leg and proceeds all the way down to the foot and toes. Sciatica is usually accompanied by low back pain.

What are a few possible causes of sciatic nerve irritation or "sciatica?"

  1. Disc injuries that press on the sciatic nerve as it leaves the spinal cord
  2. Swelling or excessive fluid from a sprain/strain injury in the low back
  3. Muscle spasms in the buttock where the sciatic nerve passes
  4. Bone growths (spurs) in the opening of the vertebrae where the sciatic nerve exits the spinal cord




DISCLAIMER: The information that appears on TheInjuryDoctors.com is presented to our prospective Las Vegas, NV patients who may have sustained injuries related to trauma from car accidents or other sources. The information is presented in summary form only and is intended to provide general understanding of neck injury and back injury topics. The information should not be used in place of a visit, call or consultation with a qualified neck and back doctor with specific training and certification to treat neck and back injuries related to car accidents, falls, or genetic predispositions. TheInjuryDoctors.com does not recommend the self-management of neck and back pain or injury. Information obtained by using TheInjuryDoctors.com is not exhaustive and does not cover all possible risks, ailments, or physical conditions related to car accident injuries or other neck and back injuries. Contact this office to schedule a consultation.

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