Leg Pain from Radiculopathy

How can Leg Pain Affect You? Your Chiropractor in Southampton Explains

Your low back is made to bend but if you bend and twist too often and in the wrong way, the disc – the little ‘cushion’ between the vertebrae, can tear and the middle part or the nucleus pulposus (see Figure #1 below) can leak through that tear and touch or irritate one of the nerve roots that make up the sciatic nerve. This is called a Disc Herniation.

Fig #1


Depending on which level of nerve you irritate, the pain goes to a different part of the leg supplied by that nerve– see figure #2 below. The middle of the disc contains chemicals that are irritating to the nerve root and chemical irritation can cause as much pain as pressure on the nerve root. The pain can range from being irritating to being almost unbearable with weakness of some of the muscles in your leg. You might feel that you can’t move your leg properly to walk.


How Can You Help Yourself?

An important thing to understand is that leg pain is a symptom of a problem—of something compressing or irritating the nerve roots that comprise the sciatic nerve – rather than a medical diagnosis or medical disorder in an of itself. This is an important distinction because it is the underlying diagnosis that often needs to be treated in order to relieve sciatic nerve pain, which is where chiropractors in Southampton at the Avenue Clinic come in. Treatment means manipulation or mobilisation but also lots of advice regarding how you can avoid getting the pain again.

Leg Pain often presents itself without back pain at all – just leg pain. Often it arises as a result of bending twisting and reaching forwards, when it can feel like a ‘knife in the back’. Just because you have leg pain does not mean that you have sciatica! You need an examination to find out if you have referred pain or true sciatica.

Radicular pain can be relentless and you often just can’t find a position to get comfortable in – with painkillers, with rest – whatever you do, the pain is there … and it can stop you from doing most things that you want to do and you often find that you can’t stay in one position for very long – even in bed – you think you have found a comfortable position and then the pain goes down the leg again in a wave.

Leg Pain usually arises as a result of having moved incorrectly for maybe years, which has overloaded the disc and it suddenly herniates or tears…. A bit like when you bend a metal coathanger repeatedly – eventually it snaps! The chiropractors in Southampton at the Avenue Clinic need to show you how to ‘spare the spine’ by using your hips to move and how to strengthen you deep muscles so the disc is protected in future.

Those chemicals that leak out of the disc can also inhibit some of the little muscles that are close to the spine – the ones that are so important in stabilising and protecting the disc and spinal joints so unless you strengthen them, you are prone to further low back pain or leg pain. If bigger muscles tense up around the low back to protect it that can give rise to low back pain too. When you have had pain for a while, you begin to think it will last for ever – but chiropractic treatment can be so helpful in most cases of radiculopathy.

Research indicates that people with sciatica should consider spinal manipulation as a primary treatment and surgery should only be considered if conservative treatment is unsuccessful.