Shooting Pain in Your Legs? It Might Be Your Spine

Shooting Pain in Your Legs? It Might Be Your Spine

You feel fine one minute, but you make a seemingly small change in your posture or a movement, and all of sudden, you’re not so fine thanks to pain shooting down your leg.

These sudden flares of pain that extend from your lower back, down into one side of your buttocks and into your leg are the hallmarks of a pinched nerve in your back.If you’re dealing with leg pain that has no obvious source and it fits the description above, there are a few things our pain management team here at Pain Medicine Consultants wants you to know. Let’s take a look.

The foundation of your peripheral nervous system

Your spine not only provides support for your entire body; it also acts as the main conduit between your central nervous system and your peripheral nervous system. 

Your central nervous system includes your brain and spinal cord, and all of the nerves outside this core are considered peripheral.

Most of your peripheral nerves originate from nerve roots that exit your spinal canal through various points along your spine. In total, there are 31 pairs of spinal nerves, 11 of which are located in your lower back.

These nerve roots contain fibers that can come together to form peripheral nerves. The largest of these nerves is your sciatic nerve, which forms in your lower back and travels down each side of your buttocks and down the backs of your legs to your feet.

When a spinal nerve gets pinched

The reason we took a short dive into anatomy was to illustrate how a pinched nerve in your lower back can lead to leg pain. In most cases, the nerve in question is the aforementioned sciatic nerve (sciatica), but other nerves can get compressed and lead to radiating symptoms that affect your legs.

The issues in your spine that can lead to this problematic nerve compression include:

Herniated or bulging disc

A piece of your intervertebral disc leaks out of its space and compresses or pinches nearby nerve fibers.

Lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS)

Degenerative changes in your spine narrow your spinal canal and compress nerve fibers.


Like LSS, degenerative changes due to arthritis in your spine can lead to nerve irritation.

There are other less common reasons for nerve compression in your lower back, such as trauma, an infection, or a tumor.

Relieving the compression to relieve your pain

If you’re still reading, it means that the information we’re presenting is tracking in terms of what you’re experiencing. Your next step is to come see us so we can properly identify the source of the nerve entrapment.

The good news is that we have a number of different treatments that can address nerve compression in your back, including:

To get started on finding relief for your leg pain, we invite you to contact one of our offices in Pleasanton, Pleasant Hill, or Corte Madera, California, to set up an appointment.

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