Musculoskeletal pain in the thigh, buttock or lower back is an uncomfortable and often restrictive condition. It can refer to any pain in the left lower limb and/or lower back. Many describe the pain as intense and throbbing, and it is usually exacerbated by sitting or strenuous physical activity. SteadyHealth members were unsure about the causes and treatments.
What causes this upper left thigh pain?
What is the treatment for this?
A majority of people experiencing this problem describe it as being located in the left, upper back thigh — under the buttock. The pain can be rather agonizing and usually restricts a person's movement. Discussion participants reported the affliction as being constant but aggravated by prolonged sitting or walking.
I experience pain from my buttock to my knee when sitting in my office or when as a passenger or driver of a car, when it can become particularly painful.
Users detail the soreness sometimes radiating down the leg or up the back. In rare cases, the sensation was described as going all the way down to the ankle or extending to the upper torso, as well as being located in the right leg. Other commonalities among most of the discussion participants included:
- The discomfort is very severe, sometimes completely restricting movement
- It is long-lasting i.e. users report suffering for weeks, months and even years
- Usually worsened when a person is in the same position for a longer time
- Temporarily relieved by changing the initial position
- Knee buckle/collapse
- Color may change in the feet after crossing the legs
- Interrupted sleep due to the pain after changing the position
- Lower back stiffness
- Difficulty walking up the stairs
- Stretching (when pain is not present) can cause the onset
For people dealing with this problem, easing the pain depends on the original position or activity which is causing it. For example, participants who felt aggravated pain while sitting reported standing up or walking as a way to find relief. On the other hand, those suffering aggravated pain after a strenuous physical activity may find relief by lying down and gently stretching their spine and/or leg. Over-the-counter pain killers may temporarily provide pain relief.
What do the experts say?
Leg and/or lower back pain can have multiple causes. Radiating leg pain and related ailments are the main symptoms of sciatica, which affects many people. Widely varying, the pain associated with sciatica is most commonly described as a mild tingling, blunt ache or a burning sensation. It has been reported that the pain could be severe enough to render a person unable to move. Generally unilateral, sciatica pain often starts in the lower back and extending down the leg to your calf, foot or even toes. A person suffering from this ailment may feel pain in one part of the leg or hip and numbness in other parts. Patients with sciatica may also experience lower back pain which is usually less intense than the leg pain. In some cases, your foot may get caught on the ground when walking. Sciatica pain can start slowly and become progressively worse:
- After sitting or standing
- During a certain time of the day (usually at night)
- When straining or holding your breath, like during a bowel movement
- When sneezing, coughing or laughing
- When bending backward or after walking for a few meters (especially if caused by Spinal Stenosis)
Pressure or damage to the sciatic nerve causes sciatica. This nerve is the largest nerve in the body and is responsible for controlling the muscles in the back of your knee and the lower leg. It is also responsible for providing feeling to the back of the thigh, the outer and back part of the lower leg as well as the sole of the foot. A herniated disc in combination with a compressed nerve root causes sciatica in about 90 percent of the cases. Other common causes include:
- Pelvic injury or fracture
- Spinal Stenosis
- Deep Gluteal Syndrome/Piriformis Syndrome
- Tumors (less often)
As sciatica is not a medical condition on its own, but rather a symptom of a medical problem, the treatment depends on the underlying issue. In most cases, no medical attention is needed and patients will recover with time. However, if the symptoms persist, your doctor may recommend conservative (non-surgical) treatment. It focuses on reducing pain and inflammation:
- Apply heat or ice to the affected area. Ice is recommended in the first 48 to 72 hours
- Take over-the-counter pain killers such as ibuprofen (Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol)
Here are some recommendations to try at home:
- Avoid bed rest
- Activity should be reduced in the first couple of days. Then slowly, pick up your pace
- DO NOT do any heavy lifting or back twisting in the first six weeks after the pain begins
- Resume exercising after two to three weeks. Work on strengthening your abdominal muscles and improving your spine flexibility
In case the previous steps have not improved your pain, the doctor may suggest further treatment in terms of physical therapy, injections or surgery.
Deep Gluteal Syndrome is another possible cause of sciatic pain. This condition is caused by the non-discogenic nerve entrapment — meaning the nerve pain does not originate from vertebral disc damage. There are several locations where the sciatic nerve can be entrapped in the posterior hip anatomy. When the nerve gets compressed by the piriformis muscle the condition is described as Piriformis Syndrome. Sciatica (regardless of the cause) is diagnosed via one or more of the following:
- Physical exam and patient history
- Blood work
- Computerized Tomography (CT)
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
- Other imaging tests
Participants described pain location and what aggravates it
- It is beginning to be unbearable also my school is an hour away from where I live so I have to sit on a bus for two hours a day which is agony.
- I also have this pain Its in my butt check and goes down the leg and even up my back.
- I get this sharp fast pain in the front and it feels like your leg popped out .
- more to the outside of the left thigh.
- I am 44 and had pain you are describing for years and years.
Handling the pain
Participants general suggestions on handling the pain
- If you really want to find out the exact source, go to a chiropractor and ask them to get xrays of every part of you that hurts and is in pain and tell them you do not know where the pain is coming from.
- Put a good cold compress on it, especially after walking and putting weight down.
- the most common cause of sciatica is a herniated disk so is probably best to get a scan from your Dr.
- Also must have firm mattress with no sag.
- Easy fix is to lie on your side and arch your body with the stomach sticking out and your legs and shoulders pulled back.
More alternative therapies
- Planning to go for Ayurvedic treatment, which is my last hope.
- oh the only thing that i found to help was acupuncture from lower back all the way down to ankles, it lasted not quite a week and i stopped because after feeling the relief it was harder to go back to not being able to sit and it started getting expensive and wasnt actually a cure
- First I went to the chiropractor for a while, then I also started stretching my legs and lower back (bend over and touch your toes).
- I saw the chiropractor for less than a year.
- I highly recommend going with an acupuncturist since it was the only thing that finally ended the severe pain.