Herniated discs are probably the most commondiagnosis for severe back pain and sciatica (leg pain). Discs are large cushions that lie betweenthe individual vertebrae of our spinal columns,The disc is composed of layers of ligaments(annulus fibrosis) arranged in a criss-crossing matrix that hold in a gel-like substance (nucleus pulposus), giving the disc its “shock-absorbing”ability. Sometimes the gel swells(which is called a disc protrusion or bulge).
A more problematic situation occurs if the gel pushes through its ligamentous wall (which is a disc prolapse or extrusion). Both situations can led to pressure or irritation of the vulnerable spinal nerve roots. This can lead to sciatica – an abnormal sensation felt anywhere from the buttocks to the feet.
When should I see a doctor?
Anytime a person has pain radiating down their leg they should see a doctor to find out the reason why. This is not something urgent unless there is buckling of one or both legs, incapacitating pain, progressive pain or numbness, loss of bowel or bladder control, or numbness around the genitalia or anus.