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What is referred lower leg pain?

Referred pain is any pain that originates in one part of the body but is experienced elsewhere. Pain can be referred from the lumbar spine (lower back) to the lower leg and this is known as referred lower leg pain. Physiotherapy is an effective treatment for referred lower leg pain.

How does referred lower leg pain happen?

Structures known as vertebrae act as building blocks to make up the spine. Exiting each vertebral level are nerves known as ‘spinal nerves’ which supplying different muscles in the body. The nerves leaving the lumbar (lower back) vertebrae supply the lower limbs. If they become damaged, referred pain may be experienced in the lower legs. This may be due to arthritis, trauma, spinal stenosis and disc prolapses. Other more rare causes of referred lower leg pain include infection and malignancy.

What are the symptoms of referred lower leg pain?

There are many symptoms associated with referred lower leg pain. These may include:

What should I do if I have referred lower leg pain?

If you recognise symptoms of referred lower leg pain, you should visit your GP as soon as possible. They may prescribe you with painkillers and refer you for various tests to identify the exact problem. These include MRI scans, X-rays and CT scans. Physiotherapy can begin as soon as you notice any of the symptoms of referred lower leg pain.

Physiotherapy treatment for referred lower leg pain

Your physiotherapist will produce a tailored rehabilitation programme to meet yours personal goals. Physiotherapy may include:

What shouldn’t I do if I have referred lower leg pain?

Do no continue with any activities or sports that are making your symptoms worse. It is also important not to try and treat the condition yourself as this could aggravate your condition and delay the healing process.

Could there be any long-term effects of referred lower leg pain?

Referred lower leg pain can usually resolve with a personalised rehabilitation programme. However, if your symptoms are chronic or more persistent, your recovery may take longer. In rare cases, surgery may be necessary.

To arrange a physiotherapy assessment call on 0330 088 7800 or book online.

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