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Oh, My Aching Leg?

Have you ever experienced nagging leg pain that just won’t go away? It can be frustrating and debilitating, affecting your daily activities and overall well-being. But did you know that leg pain can actually be linked to certain low back conditions? Understanding the anatomy of the spine helps us grasp this connection. The spine is divided into two halves: the front and the back. The front half consists of vertebral bodies and intervertebral disks, while the back half includes the spinal cord, nerve roots, and facet joints. When leg pain occurs, it can be caused by a pinched nerve or an inflamed facet joint. Pinched nerves are commonly due to herniated disks and are characterized by pain extending below the knee, muscle weakness, and numbness. On the other hand, facet joint-related leg pain is described as a generalized, deep ache that usually does not extend below the knee. The good news is that both of these sources of pain are highly treatable with chiropractic care. Seeking prompt treatment is crucial for better outcomes and satisfaction. So if you’ve been suffering from that aching leg, reach out to a chiropractor to find relief and regain your mobility.

Anatomy of the Spine

The spine is a complex structure that plays a crucial role in providing support and protection for the body. It can be divided into two halves: the front half and the back half. The front half includes the vertebral bodies and the intervertebral discs, which act as shock absorbers between the vertebral bodies. These discs have a unique structure, with a jelly-like center surrounded by a tough, cartilage-like outer layer. Ligaments hold the vertebrae and discs together, providing stability.

On the other hand, the back half of the spine includes the spinal cord, nerve roots, and facet joints. The facet joints are small joints located at the back of the spine and are responsible for guiding the movements of the back. They have a joint capsule and surrounding ligaments that provide lubrication and limit movement. While the vertebral bodies and intervertebral discs carry the majority of the weight, the facet joints play a crucial role in facilitating movement.

Causes of Leg Pain

Leg pain can have various causes, but two common ones are a pinched nerve from a herniated disc and an inflamed facet joint.

Pinched Nerve from a Herniated Disc

When a nerve is pinched, it is often due to a herniated disc. The intervertebral disc’s jelly-like center leaks out and puts pressure on the nerve, resulting in leg pain. This type of pain is usually specific and easy to describe. It often extends below the knee to the ankle or foot. Additional symptoms can include muscle weakness and numbness in specific areas of the leg. Interestingly, bending forward can increase low back and leg pain, while bending backward can reduce leg pain and sometimes even low back pain.

Inflamed Facet Joint

Leg pain can also be caused by an inflamed facet joint. When the joint capsule tears or “sprains,” the pain is referred down the leg in a generalized, non-specific manner. Patients often describe this pain as a deep ache that is challenging to pinpoint. Unlike with a pinched nerve, the leg pain does not typically extend below the knee. Additionally, bending forward can provide relief, while bending backward can exacerbate the pain. In most cases, this type of leg pain does not require invasive treatments or surgery.

Symptoms of Pinched Nerve Leg Pain

When leg pain is caused by a pinched nerve from a herniated disc, there are several common symptoms to look out for.

Specific Pain Below the Knee

One of the primary characteristics of pinched nerve leg pain is that it extends below the knee. The pain can radiate down to the ankle or foot, following the path of the affected nerve.

Muscle Weakness

Pinched nerves can also lead to muscle weakness in the leg. This weakness can make it difficult to perform certain activities, such as walking or lifting objects.

Numbness in Leg

Another telltale symptom of pinched nerve leg pain is numbness or a tingling sensation in specific areas of the leg. This can occur along the pathway of the affected nerve.

Characteristics of Low Back and Leg Pain with Bending

Bending forward often increases low back and leg pain in cases of a pinched nerve. However, bending backward can actually reduce the leg pain and sometimes even the low back pain. These characteristic pain patterns can help differentiate pinched nerve leg pain from other causes.

Symptoms of Inflamed Facet Joint Leg Pain

When leg pain is caused by an inflamed facet joint, the symptoms can be different from those of pinched nerve leg pain. Here are a few key symptoms to be aware of.

Generalized, Non-Specific Pain

Unlike the specific pain associated with a pinched nerve, inflamed facet joint leg pain is often described as a general, non-specific ache. It can be challenging to pinpoint the exact location of the pain.

Deep Ache

The pain caused by an inflamed facet joint is often characterized as a deep ache. Patients may find it difficult to describe the pain accurately, as it lacks the specificity of pinched nerve leg pain.

Characteristics of Low Back and Leg Pain with Bending

In cases of inflamed facet joint leg pain, bending forward can provide relief, while bending backward can worsen the pain. These pain patterns are distinct from those associated with a pinched nerve.

Treatment Options for Pinched Nerve Leg Pain

Pinched nerve leg pain can be effectively treated through various approaches, both surgical and non-surgical.

Non-Surgical Approaches

Non-surgical treatments are often the first-line option for managing pinched nerve leg pain. These can include chiropractic care, physical therapy, pain medications, and lifestyle modifications. Chiropractic care, in particular, has been found to be effective in relieving pain and improving function in many patients.

Potential for Surgery

In cases where non-surgical treatments fail to provide relief, surgery may be considered. Surgical options for pinched nerve leg pain may involve removing the herniated portion of the disc through a procedure called discectomy. This can help alleviate the pressure on the affected nerve.

Effectiveness of Chiropractic Care

Chiropractic care has been shown to be an effective treatment option for pinched nerve leg pain. Chiropractors use manual adjustments to realign the spine and reduce pressure on the affected nerve. They may also incorporate other therapies, such as physical therapy or massage, to promote healing and relieve pain.

Treatment Options for Inflamed Facet Joint Leg Pain

Inflamed facet joint leg pain can also be effectively managed through various treatment options.

Non-Invasive Treatments

Non-invasive treatments, such as chiropractic care, physical therapy, and pain medications, can be effective in reducing inflammation and relieving pain associated with inflamed facet joints. Chiropractic adjustments can help realign the spine and reduce stress on the facet joints, promoting healing.

Rare Need for Invasive Treatments or Surgery

Unlike pinched nerve leg pain, inflamed facet joint leg pain rarely requires invasive treatments or surgery. Most cases can be successfully managed through conservative approaches, such as chiropractic care.

Effectiveness of Chiropractic Care

Chiropractic care has shown great promise in treating inflamed facet joint leg pain. By addressing the underlying causes of inflammation and providing targeted adjustments, chiropractors can help alleviate pain and improve function.

Importance of Prompt Treatment

When experiencing leg pain, it is crucial to seek prompt treatment to avoid the potential complications of prolonged discomfort.

Longer Treatment Course with Delayed Treatment

Delaying treatment for leg pain can result in a longer treatment course. In some cases, the condition may worsen, requiring more intensive interventions and a lengthier recovery period.

Satisfaction with Early Treatment

Seeking treatment early can lead to greater satisfaction with the outcomes. By addressing the pain and its underlying causes promptly, patients can experience faster relief and improved quality of life.

ChiroTrust Approach to Care

ChiroTrust is an approach to chiropractic care that emphasizes convenient, affordable, and mainstream treatment options. ChiroTrust providers pledge to provide their patients with effective chiropractic care without unnecessary long-term treatment plans and therapies. This approach ensures that patients receive the care they need in a timely and cost-effective manner.

Convenient, Affordable, and Mainstream Chiropractic Care

ChiroTrust providers strive to make chiropractic care accessible to all patients. They prioritize convenience and affordability, ensuring that patients can access the care they need when they need it.

Avoidance of Unnecessary Long-Term Treatment Plans and Therapies

Chiropractors who have taken the ChiroTrust pledge are committed to avoiding unnecessary long-term treatment plans and therapies. They focus on providing effective, evidence-based care that addresses the root causes of the problem.

Finding a Doctor of Chiropractic

If you are experiencing leg pain and are considering chiropractic care, it’s important to find a qualified and skilled chiropractor.

Taking The ChiroTrust Pledge

To ensure you receive care from a chiropractor who follows the ChiroTrust approach, look for providers who have taken the ChiroTrust pledge. This pledge signifies their commitment to providing convenient, affordable, and mainstream chiropractic care.

Locating a Chiropractor in Your Area

To find a chiropractor who has taken the ChiroTrust pledge in your area, conduct a simple online search. Use the keywords “ChiroTrust Pledge” and the name of your town in quotes. This will help you locate chiropractors who align with the ChiroTrust approach.


While this article provides valuable information about leg pain and possible treatment options, it is essential to seek professional medical or chiropractic advice for accurate diagnosis and personalized treatment plans. A healthcare professional who is familiar with your updated medical history can provide the most appropriate recommendations for your specific condition.

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