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Possible Causes of Low Back or Leg Pain

Image showing the sciatic nerve.

The symptoms in your back or leg may be due to pressure on a nerve. This pressure may be caused by a damaged disk or by abnormal bone growth. Either way, you may feel pain, burning, tingling, or numbness. If you have pressure on a nerve that connects to the sciatic nerve, pain may shoot down your leg.

Image of a damaged disk.

Pressure from the Disk

Constant wear and tear can weaken a disk over time. The disk can then be damaged by a sudden movement or injury. If its soft center begins to bulge, the disk may press on a nerve. Or the outside of the disk may tear, and the soft center may squeeze through and pinch a nerve.

Image of bone spurs.

Pressure from Bone

As a disk wears out, the vertebrae right above and below the disk begin to touch. This can put pressure on a nerve. Often, abnormal bone (called bone spurs) grows where the vertebrae rub against each other. This can cause the foramen or the spinal canal to narrow (called stenosis ) and press against a nerve.


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