It’s My Leg That’s Hurting, Not My Back. Why Am I Being Sent to a Spine Specialist?

Having pain in any part of your body can be disconcerting. It means there is something wrong and you may need some help dealing with the issue. Of course, worst-case scenarios will instantly flood your brain, making the thought of visiting a doctor even more scary.

But, you have no choice. While you can look up your symptoms online, you’re likely to receive a wide array of diagnoses and most are much worse than the actual condition you’re dealing with. The best way to get answers is to see the right doctor. But, that can still leave you confused when you have leg pain and get referred to a good spine surgeon who starts by x-raying your back!

The Leg & Back

Your legs sit below your back and the main blood vessels and nerves that feed your legs go through the base of your spine. When you suffer a spine injury the area is likely to become inflamed. This places pressure on the nerves and blood vessels. It can restrict the transmission of blood and electrical impulses, causing you to feel pain in your legs instead of your back.

Of course, sometimes the pain in your leg is simply because you’ve injured your leg, torn a muscle, or have simply worn down the cartilage in your knees.

If you are suffering from any of the following symptoms there is a good chance that a back issue is actually causing your leg pain.

  • Pain that radiates down your leg, starting at your back or hip
  • A feeling of weakness in your leg
  • Burning sensations inside your leg, also known as tingling or even numbness in sections
  • Pain in just one leg with no obvious cause
  • Finding it hard to walk normally or walk at all

You don’t need to have all these symptoms to be dealing with back issues.

The Most Common Issues

Lower back pain is common because your back is constantly under stress making it highly likely that you’ll suffer back problems at some point in your life.

Alongside this, as you age your body slowly starts to degenerate, making back problems more likely. Here are some of the most common issues.


The sciatica nerve runs from your back, through your spine, and then down your leg. If it is pinched you’ll feel leg pain. But, the problem is more likely to be a herniated disc or disc spur placing pressure on the nerve.

Spinal stenosis

This is the term used when the spinal canal starts to narrow. Research is ongoing as to why this happens but it will cause pain in both legs and the pain will gradually get worse as time passes.

Degenerative discs

This happens as you age although it doesn’t happen to everyone. As the discs degenerate the nerves are pinched more and your back will feel uncomfortable. This will cause pain which will usually travel down one leg. If the narrowing causes nerve damage your foot will start to drop and you’ll feel muscle weakness.

The bottom line is simple, if you’re being referred to a back specialist for leg pain, then you probably have a back issue and you’re in the best possible hands.

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