Symptoms of Low Back Pain and Sciatica
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Symptoms of Low Back Pain and Sciatica

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Most back pain is usually localized in the low back. Stress on the muscles and ligaments that support the spine produces strain in these tissues, and this is the usual cause of lower back pain, although there can be other, more serious causes.

If the sciatic nerve is irritated, the pain may extend into the buttock or leg on the affected side, and weakness or numbness may be present. Other symptoms include burning, tingling or a shooting pain down the back of one leg.

Sciatic Nerve Pain

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More serious symptoms associated with back pain that may require immediate medical attention include:

  • Pain that doesn't subside or worsens with rest
  • Pain that is sudden, severe, or that has gotten dramatically worse
  • Progressive weakness in a leg or foot
  • Difficulty walking, standing, or moving
  • Numbness in the genital or rectal area
  • Loss of bowel or bladder control
  • Burning or difficulty with urination
  • Fever, unexplained weight loss, or other signs of illness

References:

Conn's Current Therapy 2001 . 53rd edition. W.B. Saunders Company; 2001.

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: http://www.ninds.nih.gov/ .

Textbook of Primary Care Medicine . 3rd edition. Mosby, Inc.; 2001.



Last reviewed February 2007 by Barbara Harty-Golder, MD, JD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.


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