Back pain will inhibit millions of Americans this year, and for some, the pain will be excruciating. Back pain can be caused by a larger number of factors, making a proper diagnosis difficult, but critical. Lower back and leg pain when standing is just one of the many kinds of back pain.
Three Kinds of Lower Back Pain
Lower back pain is normally classified into one of three categories:
1. Axial lower back pain – known as simple back pain
2. Radicular lower back pain – known as sciatica
3. Lower back pain with referred pain
Lower Back and Leg Pain – Sciatica
Your lower back and leg pain when standing is likely sciatica, or radicular lower back pain. Causes of lower back and leg pain when standing are usually the compression or pinching of a lower spinal nerve, especially the sciatic nerve.
The sciatic nerve runs from your spine, down the back of your thigh, down the back of your calf, and into your foot. As the nerve is compressed or pinched, you feel pain radiating from your lower back down into your leg. Sometimes, sciatica will cause greater pain in the leg than in the back. The patient hurries to a doctor, asking for causes of lower back and leg pain when standing.
The sciatic nerve compression may be caused by a herniated disk. It may also be caused by a narrowing of the passage through which the nerve travels the spine. This is more common in older people. If you have diabetes or nerve root injuries, these also may cause compression of the sciatic nerve.
Lower Back and Leg Pain Treatment
If you have lower back and leg pain when standing, try the following:
- Apply a heating pad to the painful area or areas.
- Alternate ice packs with the heat.
- Take an over-the-counter (OTC) medication to relieve the pain.
- Rest for a day or two.
- Try exercises for back pain to release compression.
CAUTION: You should call your family doctor if your lower back and leg pain continue beyond 2 or 3 weeks, or if you have any of these additional symptoms:
- Leg pain that extends below the knee
- Numbness in the legs or groin area
- Fever, nausea or vomiting, stomachache, weakness or sweating
- Inability to control bathroom functions