ZocdocAnswersI'm suffering from severe pain in lower back, hip, butt and down my right leg. What could it be?

Question

I'm suffering from severe pain in lower back, hip, butt and down my right leg. What could it be?

Will MRI show the pain and what the problem is?

Answer

It sounds like you're suffering from mechanical low back pain and right-sided lumbar radiculopathy. These are the terms that we use to describe a nerve that has been pinched somewhere exiting the spine and sends radiating pain that usually comes from one of your two legs. A layman's term to describe the sensation is sciatica, though it rarely directly affects the sciatic nerve itself. I would suggest that you first schedule an appointment with a physical medicine and rehabilitation doctor. When somebody presents to me with low back pain that radiates down one of the two legs I will usually first recommend that the person give physical therapy a try. If the physical therapy does not work within two months, then I will order an MRI the lumbar spine to see if there is a reason for the lumbar radiculopathy. If the MRI shows a pinched nerve for some reason, then usually the patient can consider a epidural steroid injection which is a procedure which can help relieve this pain temporarily. In some cases if a person receives temporary relief, they are able to perform their physical therapy exercises more readily and can thus improve their core muscle strength and improve their pain. In rare cases, this type of low back pain may require surgery to relieve the pinched nerve. You want to avoid the surgery unless you're at your last resort. Again, I would suggest that you first schedule an appointment with a physical medicine and rehabilitation doctor. This is the type of physician that typically treats low back pain and will be able to evaluate your situation.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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