Carolinas HealthCare System

Carolinas HealthCare System Huntersville is a healthcare pavilion providing multispecialty care and emergency services to the Lake Norman area. Our goal is to provide community-based, quality health information from our physicians to our community.

On this page, you will find feature articles about common ailments, conditions or diseases each  month to keep you informed and educated.

Thank you for choosing us to be part of your healthcare team.

Evaluating Leg and Back Pain

Alleviating back and/or leg pain starts with targeting a pain generator. The appropriate questions asked to the patient when taking a history and knowing what to look for on physical exam is key in making a proper diagnosis. Proper imaging may be required to fully assess the problem.

Most back pain that is axial in nature is caused by myofasial disruption, facet joint arthropathy (arthritis), degenerative discs or sacroilitis. If leg pain is involved with or without back pain (sciatica), there is usually a form of neural impingement. Neural impingement can range from radiculopathy (sciatica) to central canal stenosis. When a nerve is impinged in the back the brain interprets this as leg pain. The analogy I give to my patients is that the nerves that come out of the back and runs down the leg are similar to a light switch and the bulb. When you flick the light switch you don't see the effect at the switch but rather down at the bulb.

Using a multimodal approach to treating patients produces the best response. After proper diagnosis many common pain problems can be treated with medication and or a variety of minimally invasive therapies. Procedures are performed under x –ray guidance for precise localization.

About the Author

Jon-David Hoppenfeld, MDJon-David Hoppenfeld, MD, is a board-certified and fellowship trained in pain management.

He is a national speaker and published author on the topic of pain management and is a medical advisor for Golf Digest.