Leg Pain, Numbness, Sciatica, Tingling: What Does It Mean?
Pain, numbness, and/or tingling in the legs may affect most of us at one time or another. In many cases, these symptoms are caused by overuse of the leg muscles. On occasion while engaging in sports or other strenuous exercises the leg muscles may be inflamed and possibly irritating cutaneous nerves (aka skin nerves). Leg pain of this sort tends to be transient, presents itself in the form of cramps, muscle pain, weakness or spasms, and goes away by itself after a period of rest. However, a majority of people (up to 32% of Americans, according to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons) experience chronic leg pain, meaning that it occurs often, and for long periods of time usually lingering for 3 months or longer. If you experience this kind of leg pain or numbness, there may be more serious causes of it, and you should consult your chiropractor to determine what the cause is, and treat it.
Chronic leg pain may be caused by many factors, not all of them originating in the legs themselves. For instance, many problems will present themselves symptomatically as pain, numbness or tingling in the legs but in reality originate in the lower back. That is the location of anatomical structures such as intervertebral discs, nerve roots, facet joints along with many other structures, and if there is irritation as the result of a structural problem in the spine or surrounding tissues, the pain can radiate along the path of that nerve to the legs. Many people will say they think they have "sciatica". They are not entirely wrong but that is a general diagnosis for that set of symptoms. Common symptoms of leg problems that originate in the lower back include a burning pain that seems to travel from the lower back or buttocks to the legs. It is often described by patients as an "electric" sensation or "stinging" sensation. This condition is often caused by an irritated sciatic nerve, and is commonly referred to as sciatica.
Numbness and/or a tingling "pins and needles" sensation in the legs can also have their source in the lower back, as the result of a herniated lumbar disc, or because of poor circulation caused by pressure on the tarsal nerve. It can also be the result of spinal stenosis, caused by a narrowing of the spinal canal and the resulting compression of (and pressure on) the spinal cord and nerves.
The fact of the matter is that there are many possible causes for chronic leg pain. Almost all of them can be successfully treated by a chiropractor provided you are properly diagnosed. This requires a thorough history and examination not only of the legs but of the back and the spine. If you are experiencing leg pain, tingling, numbness, or any leg weakness on a regular basis, make an appointment today to see your chiropractor. If left undiagnosed and untreated, leg pain can become far worse, debilitating, and lead to permanent damage.
Be sure to inform your chiropractor about your symptoms and how they present themselves as specifically as you can. This will help by identifying a correct diagnosis of your condition and give you a clear path with a proper prescription of palliative and corrective treatment to the underlying cause. Inform the doctor of the frequency of the pain, the severity, whether it's more painful in the morning or evenings, or if you feel pain after performing certain activities. Describing the type of sensations you feel will also be beneficial along with the actual location of pain from your perceived origin. What body positions are provocative; and is there anything specific that relieves the symptoms. Finding an accurate diagnosis is achieved 90% of the time through a thorough history of the problem followed by a thorough examination. Hopefully, you will find this article helpful. Please share it with someone you think may benefit from this information.