Back/Leg Pain

Serving the South Florida area with locations in Hollywood and Miami, FL

Dr. Andreas C. Tomac, MD, PhD, FAANS is a distinguished neurosurgeon specializing in diagnosing and treating ankylosing back/leg pain.

What is back/leg pain?

Back and leg pain is a common health concern that manifests as discomfort, aching, or stiffness in the back and lower limbs. This type of pain can be attributed to various causes, including muscle strains, ligament sprains, herniated discs, and underlying medical conditions affecting the spine or nerves. The pain may range from mild and intermittent to severe and persistent, impacting one’s daily activities and quality of life. Individuals may experience back pain in the upper, middle, or lower back, and the discomfort can often radiate down the legs. Sciatica, a condition characterized by pain radiating along the sciatic nerve, is a common example. Understanding the root cause of back and leg pain is crucial for effective management and treatment, which may include lifestyle adjustments, physical therapy, medications, or, in some cases, surgical intervention. Dr. Tomac will meet with you for a comprehensive assessment and personalized care plan.

Who can it affect?

Back and leg pain can impact individuals across various age groups and lifestyles. From sedentary office workers to active athletes, anyone can experience discomfort in their back and legs. Prolonged periods of sitting, poor posture, and lack of regular exercise are common culprits for these issues. Additionally, older adults may be susceptible to back and leg pain due to age-related changes in the spine and joints. Pregnant women often experience such discomfort as well, attributed to the added strain on the lower back and pelvic region. It is crucial for individuals to be aware of preventive measures, such as maintaining proper posture, engaging in regular physical activity, and seeking professional advice for managing and alleviating back and leg pain.

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of back and leg pain can vary based on the underlying cause. However, common symptoms associated with these types of pain include:

Back Pain:

  • Localized Discomfort: Pain that is primarily felt in the lower, middle, or upper back, depending on the affected area.
  • Dull or Sharp Pain: The pain may be dull, aching, or sharp, and it can range in intensity.
  • Pain with Movement: Activities such as bending, twisting, or lifting may exacerbate the back pain.
  • Stiffness: Feeling of stiffness or reduced flexibility in the back.

Leg Pain (Sciatica):

  • Radiating Pain: Pain that extends from the lower back down through the buttocks and travels along the sciatic nerve into one or both legs.
  • Numbness and Tingling: Sensations of numbness, tingling, or “pins and needles” in the legs.
  • Muscle Weakness: Weakness in the leg muscles, making it difficult to stand, walk, or engage in normal activities.
  • Burning Sensation: Some individuals may experience a burning sensation along the path of the affected nerve.

Other Possible Symptoms:

  • Pain Extending to the Foot: In severe cases, leg pain may extend all the way to the foot.
  • Pain Aggravated by Sitting: Pain may worsen when sitting for prolonged periods.
  • Difficulty Sleeping: Discomfort may interfere with sleep, particularly when lying down.

Treating Back/Leg Pain

Back/Leg Pain in Hollywood & Miami FL

How is back/leg pain diagnosed?

The diagnosis of back and leg pain, including conditions like herniated discs or spinal disorders, involves a thorough evaluation, and a neurosurgeon such as Dr. Tomac may be involved in the diagnostic process. Here are common steps in the diagnosis:

  • Medical History: Dr. Tomac will gather a detailed medical history, including information about the onset, duration, and characteristics of the pain, as well as any factors that may exacerbate or alleviate the symptoms.
  • Physical Examination: A physical examination will be conducted to assess the patient’s range of motion, reflexes, muscle strength, and any signs of neurological involvement. Dr. Tomac may perform specific tests to identify the source of pain.
  • Imaging Studies: Imaging tests such as Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) or Computed Tomography (CT) scans may be ordered. These tests provide detailed images of the spine, discs, and surrounding structures, helping to identify abnormalities like herniated discs or structural issues.
  • Discography: In some cases, discography may be recommended. This involves injecting a contrast dye into the affected disc to assess its structure and identify areas of leakage, helping to pinpoint the location of issues like herniated discs.
  • Nerve Conduction Studies (Electromyography – EMG): These studies may be conducted to assess nerve function and identify areas of nerve compression or damage.
Back/Leg Pain in Hollywood & Miami FL

What treatments are available?

Treatment options for back and leg pain, including those involving a neurosurgeon like Dr. Tomac, depend on the underlying cause and the severity of the condition. Here are common treatment approaches:

Conservative Treatments:

  • Medications: Pain relievers, anti-inflammatory drugs, and muscle relaxants may be prescribed to manage pain and inflammation.
  • Physical Therapy: Targeted exercises to strengthen core muscles, improve flexibility, and correct posture.
  • Heat/Ice Therapy: Application of heat or cold packs to alleviate pain and reduce inflammation.
  • Activity Modification: Adjustments to daily activities to avoid exacerbating the pain.

Interventional Procedures:

  • Epidural Steroid Injections: Injections into the epidural space to deliver anti-inflammatory medication and reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Nerve Blocks: Injection of anesthetic agents to block pain signals from specific nerves.

Surgical Options:

  • Discectomy: Surgical removal of the herniated portion of a disc to relieve pressure on nerves.
  • Spinal Fusion: Joining two or more vertebrae to stabilize the spine, often performed when there is instability.
  • Artificial Disc Replacement: Replacement of a damaged disc with an artificial one to maintain spinal mobility.