Leg pain and sciatica
Updated: February 2020
Leg pain can have a number of possible causes, and could be a sign of various underlying conditions. One of the most common causes of leg pain is sciatica, and it is important to know how to recognise its symptoms so that you can get the right treatment for your pain.
Leg pain: Is it sciatica?
The cause of your leg pain is likely to be sciatica if the pain is severe, and it starts from your lower back or buttock and radiates down your leg to your thigh, calf or foot. Other symptoms of sciatica include pins and needles, numbness or muscle weakness, and these may affect either your left or right leg, or both legs.
Causes of the pain
The leg pain you feel when you have sciatica is usually caused by a slipped disc that is pressing on a sciatic nerve root. This nerve, which runs down both legs, starts in the spine and goes all the way down to your toes – this is why you can feel the pain radiating down your leg. Sciatica can also be caused by an injury, bone condition or tumour.
Relief from leg pain due to sciatica
If you have sciatica, taking painkillers or anti-inflammatory drugs may help to relieve the pain, as can applying heat or cold to the painful area. Some devices designed to help manage pain, such as OMRON HeatTens for example, combine the pain-relieving benefits of heat and Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) in order to treat this kind of pain. Physiotherapy can also be helpful. You should also try to stay active. If the pain persists, see a doctor.