5 Frequent Causes of Foot and Leg Pain

Source: Johns Hopkins

Although there may be more, these are the five leading causes of foot and leg pain.

Lumbar Degenerative Disc Disease

During the regular aging process, the intervertebral disc loses water and flexibility, resulting in small, painful movements that radiate down the leg. Symptoms of lumbar degenerative disc disease include leg and low back pain.

Referred pain occurs when there is a dull, achy, or all-over pain in the legs and feet. If the nerve root becomes compressed, this results in a condition known as foraminal stenosis in which the disc degenerates, moves, and shrinks. This leaves little room for the nerve root, resulting in shooting or electric pain.

Lumbar Herniated Disc

A lumbar herniated disc puts pressure on the area under the nerve root, which is the weakest spot on a disc, causing pain that radiates down the leg into the foot. Other nerves may also be affected depending on which nerve root is affected. Treatment may include a variety of nonsurgical methods. In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to reduce inflammation and pressure on the nerve.

Lumbar Spinal Stenosis

Lumbar spinal stenosis occurs when a swollen facet joint located in the back of the spine compresses or chokes a spinal nerve root. It is a very common condition in elderly patients as the degeneration of facet joints is more common in older age. Symptoms occur as tingling, leg weakness, numbness or radiating leg pain that begins gradually over time and is temporarily relieved by leaning forward, which takes the pressure off the spinal nerve roots.


Spondylolisthesis is a condition that occurs when a vertebra shifts forward and comprises the structure of the next lower vertebra. As a result, the vertebra suffers from a reduction in flexibility and stability, and this can lead to a pinch or inflamed nerve as well as severe leg pain. A combination of rest and physical therapy is the most recommended treatment. Targeted injections may also be able to help and if these treatments are not providing adequate relief, some patients consider spinal cord stimulation.


Sciatica pain is a combination of all the symptoms of the conditions mentioned above. It occurs when nerve pain in the lower back or buttocks radiates down the sciatic nerve, resulting in a shooting pain.

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