Why do I have numbness and tingling in my leg? Why is my leg weak with back pain? Nerve anatomy

Hey guys, what’s up? It’s Stephen Dunn with CORE Therapy and Pilates.

I wanted to answer a quick question. I had a patient today and they were asking some questions about why they were having numbness and tingling in their leg and why they were having weakness in their leg with their back pain and they have an issue with their disc and they have an issue with the nerve that runs down the leg. I just wanted to answer that question real quick.

I have a stack of pens here and pencils and whatnot and I want you to think about that the nerve, once it runs out of your neck or runs out of your back and down your leg, that that nerve is basically like a rope or a hose, like a water hose but within that water hose there’s a bunch of these little bitty, what we call tracts and those tracts are running in the nerve. Each one of these little tracts in the nerve is going to create a different type of sensation or has a different job in the nerve, let me say it that way.

Let’s just say that this is your bundle of nerves here and this sharpie right here is getting pinched. If the sharpie’s getting pinched by the bulging disc or by a tight muscle or by a stenosis where there’s not enough space, well let’s say that that track is going to give you weakness or strength. Well if it’s pinching you’re going to have some weakness because that’s the part of the nerve that’s controlling the motor control. Now let’s say that this green piece, this green marker right here, if you’re getting pinched there you might have numbness and tingling down into your foot or leg.

If we were to pinch this red pen right here, maybe you can’t tell the difference between hot or cold, so if you were to put your foot on something hot you wouldn’t notice if it was hot or cold. If we were to pinch this little red guy here, maybe you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between sharp or dull. That’s why you can have so many different types of symptoms with nerve symptoms or with bulging disc or with a disc injury. Depending on where you’re getting pinched, again hot/cold, sharp/dull, pain, weakness, all of those things are going to be determined by which layer or which piece of that tract is being pinched.

When we talk about the back as the nerve exits the nerve root it can be getting pinched by a bulging disc that’s hitting that nerve. There can be a stenosis, which means if they normally have this amount of space for the nerve to go through, all the sudden it’s really tight and there’s not enough space. That can be pinching a nerve but you can also have a tightness of your hip flexor pinching the nerve or a tightness of the piriformis pinching the nerve or one of your glut muscles or as it goes down the chain one of your hamstrings or a calf muscle or whatever.

Depending on where you’re getting pinched and which part of the nerve is getting compromised will determine what kind of symptoms you’re having, what kind of weakness that you’re having. If someone has a drop foot and are not able to lift their foot up when they swing the leg through, it doesn’t have anything to do with the foot, it has to do with the nerve connection from the back to that foot, to that muscle called the anterior tibialis. I just wanted to go over that with you today. I thought that might help some people get a little better understanding of the anatomy of the nerve, because when I explained it to my client today they were really appreciative and it made a lot of sense.

If you have any questions put them below. I’d be happy to answer if you have any questions about this or anything else, I’d be happy to do a video and answer your questions. Thanks for you guys that have hopped on. I can’t see who you are but thanks for watching and we’ll see you all soon.

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Stephen Dunn

Stephen Dunn

Co-Owner / Physical Therapist at CORE Therapy and Pilates
Stephen graduated with a Masters in Physical Therapy in 1998 from LSUMC in New Orleans. Immediately interested in hands on therapy, he began to study with known manual therapist Brian Mulligan and became certified in the Maitland Australian Approach in 2003. Stephen completed a comprehensive Pilates training in Santa Monica at retroFit Pilates in 2002 and is Certified through The Pilates Method Alliance. The combined treatment of manual therapy with mind body awareness exercises using Pilates concepts was the start of his whole body treatment approach.
Stephen Dunn

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