Many conditions can cause upper leg and back pain. According to the Spine Health website, back pain, especially lower back pain, is commonly connected with one-sided leg pain. Leg pain that accompanies back pain might be dull and aching or sharp and stabbing, like an electrical shock. Although synchronized back pain and upper leg pain may be caused by separate musculoskeletal problems, they are typically related problems.
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Main Causes of Upper Leg and Back Pain
Most conditions including upper leg and back pain react well to conservative care methods.
Lumbar Disk Herniation
A lumbar disk herniation is a common cause of upper leg and back pain, especially in young to middle-aged individuals. It happens when a small part of the disk’s center, called the nucleus pulposus, ruptures through a fracture or fissure in the disk’s fibrous external ring and extends into the back canal, according to iytmed.com. The ruptured, or herniated, disk product can compress or irritate nerve roots– spinal cord offshoots– in the lumbar spine, or lower back. Typical symptoms and signs associated with a lumbar disk herniation include lower back pain that radiates into the buttocks and the upper leg; numbness; tingling and weakness in the back of the affected-side leg; and lower back pain that is worse with sitting, coughing or sneezing. MayoClinic.com specifies that smoking, obesity and a tall stature are risk factors related to lumbar disk herniations.
Trigger points are discrete, focal hyper-sensitive knots located in a taut band of muscle that can cause pain in the upper leg and back. Although trigger points can manifest in any skeletal muscle throughout the body, they are typically discovered in the back and upper thigh. Trigger points, when pressed, generate regional and referred pain, or pain that emerges in another part of the body. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, trigger points usually accompany chronic musculoskeletal disorders. Other possible causes of trigger points in the upper leg and back include bad posture, blunt-force injury and repeated strain injuries. Any condition that causes the muscle fibers to bear excess strain might cause trigger points. The AAFP states that trigger points can be active or latent. An active trigger point causes pain at rest, whereas a hidden trigger point does not cause spontaneous pain, but it might hinder motion and cause muscle weakness.
Ankylosing spondylitis is an inflammatory condition that can cause upper leg and back pain. According to the Spondylitis Association of America, or SAA, ankylosing spondylitis, also known as spondylitis or rheumatoid spondylitis, is a type of arthritis that affects the spinal column and hips, causing chronic pain or discomfort in the back and upper leg. Although there is no known cause of ankylosing spondylitis, genetic aspects, that include having the HLA-B27 gene, might contribute. Common symptoms and signs associated with ankylosing spondylitis include chronic pain in the lower back and hips; pain in impacted areas that is worse in the early morning or following periods of exercise; pain at the entheses, or locations where tendons and ligaments attach to bone; and pain and inflammation in the eyes. The SAA states that, although there is no treatment for ankylosing spondylitis, present treatment approaches can help in reducing symptoms and handle pain.
Treatment of Referred Low Back Pain
In basic, referred pain is treated with the same types of nonsurgical care as axial back pain and will frequently reduce as the low back issue resolves. As soon as the possibility of a serious hidden medical condition as the cause of a patient’s low back pain is eliminated, treatment of referred low back pain is non-surgical and may include one or a combination of the following:
- A brief period of rest (e.g. a couple of days)
- Physical therapy, active workout and extending
- Ice packs and/or hot pads
- Suitable medications for pain relief