Sciatica: The Reason Your Leg Hurts More Than Your Back

Low back pain is one of the most common injuries among adults. As many as 80 percent of adults will suffer from back pain sometime in their lives. Most people think the cause of pain is directly related to the injured portion of the spine. However, severe pain is most often caused by irritation to the surrounding nerves and tissues. Whether nerves are compressed due to inflammation, misplaced disk material, or bony growths, leg pain is a common symptom in back injuries.

Sciatica: The Reason Your Leg Hurts More Than Your Back


Sciatica is a condition that causes pain, numbness, or weakness resulting from the compression of the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve travels from your spine all the way down each leg. When an injury occurs in the lower back, inflammation or injured tissue often presses on the root of the sciatic nerve, causing pain in the leg. Sciatic pain may be felt in the hip, buttock, thigh, calf, and sometimes the foot. Symptoms are usually restricted to one side of the body. Pain may be accompanied by numbness, tingling or weakness of the affected leg. Sciatica is rarely a diagnosis on its own. It is more likely a symptom of another condition.

Sciatica Causes

Any condition that compresses the spinal nerve can cause sciatica. Certain lower back injuries are more commonly found when symptoms are severe or do not resolve within a week. Some causes of sciatica include:

  • Disc Herniation. Spinal discs are cushions between the vertebrae in your spine. When the tough outer shell of a disk tears or breaks down, the soft inside disk material leaks onto surrounding nerves and tissue.
  • Bone Spurs. When cartilage wears away between bones, small growths called bone spurs grow along the edge of the affected bone. This new growth can compress the sciatic nerve.
  • Injury to the spinal canal or pelvic bone. A violent injury like a car accident or a bad fall can cause misplaced tissue or bone to press along the sciatic nerve.

If you experience a back injury or chronic pain that results in sciatica, it is important to find the underlying cause. Contact us to diagnose your condition and determine the best treatment for your sciatica.