Pain down the leg, also referred to as sciatica or radiculopathy, is generally caused by compression upon the nerve usually as it courses through the spinal canal or as it leaves the spine. This pressure may be caused by a ruptured or herniated disc, or by thickened ligament known as spinal stenosis, or by bone spurs known as osteophytes. When one vertebral body slips upon another, a condition known as spondylolisthesis, the nerve roots leaving the spine may be compressed by the slipped bone. If you have any of these conditions or symptoms.
Mechanical lower back pain may be caused by strain or sprain of the muscles and ligaments connected to the spine. It may also be caused by inflammation of the joints of the spine or by degeneration of the disc spaces located between the vertebral bodies. Fractures of the spine may be due to trauma or due to weakening of the bone from osteoporosis and may result in back pain as well. Tumors of the spine and infection of the spine may cause back pain. Mechanical instability as is seen in spondylolisthesis may result in back pain as well. Other unrelated causes such as an abdominal aortic aneurysm may cause pain in the lower back.
It is important for your Houston back pain specialist to find out the cause of the pain so that it can be treated. This is done by taking a history from the patient and finding out when the pain began, where the pain travels to, what the nature of the pain is (shooting, stabbing, burning) and what makes the pain better or worse. The neurosurgeon then performs a physical examination and confirms with detailed MRI or CT scans of the spine, as well as x-rays. It is only after the diagnosis of the cause of pain that treatment can begin to relieve the pain.