Neurogenic or Radicular Leg Pain ("Sciatica")

Neurogenic or nerve pain into the lower leg is sometimes called sciatica but may also involve the front of the thigh and shin.

Specifically, sciatica is used to describe symptoms of leg pain, numbness, tingling and weakness that follows the course of the sciatic nerve and travels down through the buttock and the the back of the leg. It is rarely a problem with the sciatic nerve itself but a more usually an irritation or compression of a nerve root in the the lower (lumbar) spine. The causes include lumbar disc prolapse (slipped disc), spondylolisthesis and spinal stenosis. 

Symptoms of nerve pain can include:

  • Constant pain usually in either the left or right buttock and /or leg but can occasionally be felt in both.
  • Pain that worsens on sitting
  • A burning, tingling, searing pain in the leg
  • Weakness, numbness and difficulty moving the leg, foot or toes and a 'foot drop'.
  • A sharp pain, especially on standing or walking
  • Pain that radiates down the leg and into the foot and toes

A sudden onset of bilateral symptoms should always be investigated as could be a sign of cauda equina syndrome. For more information click here.

This pain and discomfort can be constant or infrequent, usually dependent on the location of the affected nerve, so can range from irritating to debilitating. Sometimes the symptoms can intensify with sudden movements such as sneezing or coughing.

A lot of cases will resolve over a period of several weeks or months without the need for intervention with activity modification, medication from your pharmacist or GP and, if not immediately settling, some professional physical therapy. 

If you have any weakness or bladder or bowel dysfunction it is important you seek urgent medical advice.

Severe or unremitting symptoms may need investigation.

If you are troubled with sciatica & wish to make an appointment to see Mr Cass, please contact Florence Anderson on 01273 828098.

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