Is My Leg Pain Coming from My Back?

Are you suffering from leg pain? Leg pain is one of those issues which seems trivial until you’re stuck with it! Leg pain, perhaps more than any other kind of pain, can prevent people from getting around as they usually would – so it’s best dealt with quickly. But, is your leg pain really even related to your leg? In fact, The pain in your leg may be coming from your low back!


Leg pain, from the back?

Could your leg pain actually arise from a low back issue? The short answer is yes it could!

This isn’t to say that if you have leg pain, you’ve definitely got a back issue – there are many other problems that can cause leg pain, and if your pain has a sudden onset, or seems to be related to recent activity (eg sports.) it’s more likely that you’ve sustained a small injury to the leg itself. Keep in mind too that many sports injuries do not necessarily show up immediately – if you’re experiencing leg pain within 24 hours of physical activity, even if you felt no pain at the time, the best first step would most likely be a visit with one of our massage or sports therapists. On the other hand, pain which is severe, especially if it’s bad enough that you cannot walk, merits a trip to the GP, or even A&E if there’s obvious damage.

But how about when you have leg pain – but none of the above applies? Many people suffer from what they often term “nagging” or “achy” pain in a leg, which never seems to reduce, even with stretching, rest or steps like heating or icing. If you have this kind of pain in a leg, or foot, a pinched nerve in your low back may well be creating your issue.


How can low back pain cause leg pain?

The spinal cord is like the highway of the body – it connects everything to everything else… and this includes pain! When a spinal nerve is pinched or compressed in an unnatural way, it’s not uncommon for that pain to travel down the spine, causing what we call radicular pain – actually, it’s one of the most common types of pain that occurs as a result of spinal nerve compression. In fact, this same phenomenon can affect most areas of the body, but the low back and legs are the most commonly implicated areas.

It’s easy to end up with a radicular pain issue too – your spinal nerves can be pinched or compressed by a bone, disc, or ligament, a problem which itself can arise from simple maladies such as poor posture. For this reason, you may sometimes also find that there are certain positions in which your leg pain diminishes, and some where it seems worse.

Other than poor posture, the most common issues associated with compression are:


  • Bone Spurs: Bone spurs can form as a result of joint damage associated with osteoarthritis, and these can sometimes grow large enough to pinch your spinal nerves.
  • Disc Herniations: Disc herniations, bulges, or tears can invade the space of your nerves and that inflammation and pressure can cause narrowing of the canals.
  • Ligament Hypertrophy: Ligament hypertrophy (or overgrowth) can happen with age and injuries and lead to added pressure your nerves.[1]


If you’ve been diagnosed with any of these in the past, it’s well worth scheduling a chiropractic appointment for a check-up.


How can we help?

If you’re suffering from leg pain, Complete Chiropractic is a great option – since we have both soft tissue experts such as sports and massage therapists on staff, as well as being a chiropractic clinic, we can offer a treatment which is best for you, whatever the cause of your leg pain. Selecting the right approach is critical, however – no amount of “leg work” will address an issue that is really seated in the low back, nor will chiropractic adjustment do anything much for a soft tissue injury. Thankfully, we offer an all in one consultation designed to identify the root cause of your pain and create a treatment plan which is right for you, and your goals.

If leg pain is an issue for you, get in touch and take advantage of our new patient special to enjoy your consultation at a discounted price and your first treatment free* – what are you waiting for!



[1] Radiculopathy. Johns Hopkins Medicine. 2021.


*Offer valid at time of article publication.



Blog by / March 21, 2021 / Blog

Dr. Paul Irvine is a doctor of chiropractic who graduated in 1994 with a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of NSW and in 1996, attained his Master of Chiropractic degree from Macquarie University in Australia. He practised in North Sydney for 5 years before he left Australia to travel and practise in the UK. He joined Complete Chiropractic in 2003 (est 1999) and took over the clinic in 2007