Numbness in your Leg? What is Causing it?
The cause of numbness in your leg can be due to many conditions. The common cause of the symptoms in your leg, ankle, and foot are due to lower back issues. The nerves come out of your lower spine to your lower extremities. Therefore, you might feel pain and numbness in your leg or foot but the pain is originating from your lower back. Below we have described the low back conditions that cause leg and/or foot pain and numbness.
Lumbar Degenerative Disc Disease
During the normal aging process, your intervertebral discs may display degeneration, disc dehydration, loss of flexibility, and radiating leg pain. Referred pain is when lumbar degenerative disc disease presents with leg and/or foot pain. Referred pain is usually achy, dull, and poorly localized. The lower extremity pain can occur due to nerve root compression from foraminal stenosis (a disc degeneration caused by loss of disc height and movement leaving minimal room for the nerve roots).
Lumbar Herniated Disc
In a healthy spine, each vertebra is cushioned by a spongy intervertebral disc. Once the disc has been damaged, the disc may bulge or break open usually on the weakest spot of disc right under the nerve root. Depending on the nerve root level, different parts of the lower extremity may be affected with radiating pain. Pain can radiate along the sciatic nerve from your lower back to your foot but originating from the nerve roots in your low back. Piriformis syndrome and sacroiliac joint dysfunction may also cause leg pain similar to the symptoms of sciatica. There are many non-surgical treatment options to relieve pain from herniated discs.
Lumbar Spinal Stenosis
A narrowing in the spinal canal in the lumbar region, in which enlarged facet joints compress and irritate the nerves branching out of the spinal cord. Commonly, lumbar spinal stenosis affects the elderly patients due to the normal aging process. The onset of leg pain from lumbar spinal stenosis is gradual. You will notice pain relief when leaning forward as the pressure is taken off the affected spinal nerve roots.
The vertebra in the spine slides forward over the adjacent lower vertebra creating a misalignment comprising its stability and flexibility. The misalignment may result in a pinched or inflamed nerve causing the leg pain. Physical therapy and rest during pain has shown significant pain relief, although if the instability progresses fusion surgery may be required for treatment.