Burning Leg Pain
Burning leg pain is irritating at its best and downright
frightening at its worst. Burning leg pain is most commonly the result of sciatica, but there are a few other
conditions that can lead to this type of pain.
Causes of Burning Leg Pain
The most common cause of burning leg pain is sciatica. Sciatica simply refers to irritation of the sciatic
nerve. The tell tale sign of sciatica is if the pain felt radiates or "shoots" rather than simply aches. If the
feeling of burning moves up and down the leg, it is likely to be sciatica. There are a lot of different causes of
sciatica, which I will cover in the next section.
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Another cause of burning leg pain is claudication. True claudication is the result of peripheral arterial
disease. Burning leg pain of this type is different from sciatica as the burning sensation is often accompanied by
muscle cramps. Additionally, it is quickly aggravated activated by exercise (such as walking) and is relieved
shortly after resting. This is literally the feeling of the muscles of the leg not getting enough oxygen. This
results in a burning ache rather than the radiating pain typical of sciatica. If this describes your burning leg
pain, see a doctor sooner rather than later.
In extremely rare circumstances, burning leg pain can be the result of a malignancy, such as a fatty tumor. This
is rare and your doctor should be able to easily identify if this is a possible cause. With that said, most people
reading this article will identify their burning leg pain as sciatica.
Causes of Sciatica
As mentioned earlier in this article, sciatica refers to the symptoms (such as burning leg pain in this case)
rather than the underlying cause. The sciatic nerve is composed of nerve fibers that originate in the spine from L4
to S3 (5 different discs), so a herniation of L4, L5, or issues in the sacrum could all be an underlying cause of
If burning leg pain is the result of a herniation, inversion table therapy can be very effective at reducing
In addition to herniated discs, sometimes muscles can impinge the sciatic nerve. A tight piriformis muscle is
the most likely culprit of this type of sciatica. In some people, the sciatic nerve pierces the piriformis rather
than running around it. Members of this part of the population are much more likely to get burning leg pain as a
result of sciatica.
The only way to reduce the irritation when a tight muscle is the cause is to reduce the pressure the muscle is
exerting on the nerve by getting the muscle to relax. Most people think this that stretching the piriformis muscle
would be the easy fix.
However, often tight muscles are a protective body reflex and simply stretching the piriformis will not loosen it
up. Additionally, the stretching can also stretch the sciatic nerve, causing more irritation. The best way to get
these muscles to relax is to fix whatever imbalance is causing this protective reflex.
For more information on muscle imbalances and sciatica-related burning leg pain, I strongly recommend picking up
the 7 Day Back Pain Cure, which is a free book available here.
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