Leg pain is a common condition that affects millions of people around the world. The pain and its severity depend upon the cause and situation of the individual. Some experience pain that radiates from the lower back and towards one or both legs. There are also some that complain about pain at the back of their legs or a sciatica pain. More so, some people experience pain in their thigh, calves or in their feet.
The pain generally varies in location and depending on the neurological and anatomical structures involved. There are also various ways to describe leg pain. It can be dull, sharp, aching, heavy, burning, tingling, radiating or numbing.
Common Causes of Leg Pain
Leg pains are often classified as musculoskeletal, neurological or vascular. These classifications may also overlap. An example of musculoskeletal pain in the leg is the crepitus. This condition is characterized by a popping or cracking sound in the knee. It may also be an arthritis pain, which is an autoimmune condition affecting the joints in the ankle, hip or knee. Any condition that involves pain the tendon, muscle or ligament is a musculoskeletal pain.
On the other hand, vascular pain in the legs may be due to cellulitis, deep vein thrombosis, varicose veins, infections or varicose eczema. This painful condition is often accompanied by skin discoloration.
Neurological pain conditions of the legs often include restless leg syndrome. A person with such a condition experiences uncontrollable twitching in the legs, nerve damage, neuropathy or sciatic nerve pain. It can be felt even when resting.
What are the Different Types of Leg Pain?
While there are different types of leg pain, their symptoms can be similar with one another. You need to get a proper diagnosis for you to have appropriate treatment for your condition.
Leg Cramps – these are quick episodes of pain that typically lasts for several minutes. The muscles of the lower leg or the calf, tightens and experience spasms. These are common at night and with older people. Abou one in every three people over 60 years experience night cramps and about 40% of them have more than three attacks in one week.
PAD or Peripheral Artery Diseases – causes painful muscle cramps in the thighs, hips or calves when walking, exercising or climbing the stairs. The pain often goes away when you stop exercising or walking. But it can take a few minutes to dissipate. This condition can become serious when there is intermittent claudication or poor blood circulation in the legs.
Popliteus Tendinitis – with this condition, the pain is often felt when an individual runs downhill. It is due to the inflammation of the popliteus tendon.
Hamstring Strain – trauma can lead to strains and sprains. This condition is often associated with running where pain is felt in the rear portion of the thigh muscle due to partial tear. Often, sprains and strains happen because the person has inadequate flexibility, overstretched, or did not warm up before exercising.
Compartment Syndrome – this condition happens when there is an injury to the leg which leads to swelling and a dangerous level of pressure in the muscles. This can cause chronic or acute compartment syndrome. The injury may be due to severe bruising or fracture. Swelling can cause pressure build up and cut off blood supply to the muscle tissue. It will deplete oxygen and nourishment to the muscles. Pain can be severe and if not addressed early, there can be permanent muscle damage.
Sciatic Nerve Pain – this condition happens when there is pressure on the nerve in the spine. The pain felt is due to a pinched nerve in the spine which causes spasms or there is a herniated disk. It is a type of pain that runs down from the hip to the foot.
How to Diagnose and Treat Leg Pain
There is a range of possibilities on why a person experiences leg pain. There are many ways to diagnose and treat the symptoms associated with leg pain. It is usually connected with different areas of the body like ankle, hip, thigh, knees or feet, thus doctors need to do in-depth analysis and evaluation to determine the specific cause of it. Broken bones, strains and fracture should be ruled out using instruments like x-ray, MRI, ultrasound, imaging and bone scans.
Minor leg discomfort such as cramps, it would help to stretch to alleviate the pain. But for those who are a high risk of cardiac arrest, claudication therapy will be recommended. More so, athletes who experience leg pain will be asked to rest the leg, apply cold compress, use heat or elevate it.
Home Treatments for Leg Pain
Simple cases of leg pain can be easily resolved at home even without medical intervention. For muscle cramps, self-help measures can be done to alleviate the pain. Stretching and massaging the muscles are the best remedy to do with immediate and simple cramping in the legs. Painkillers will not help improve the condition.
You can try to walk on your heels until the cramping eases or hold the toe and pull it towards your body while straightening the leg. Leg cramps can also be prevented by practicing proper warm up or cool down before and after exercising, hydration, and regularly stretching the legs.
Sports Injury Home Treatment
Leg sprains, strains and other minor sports injuries can be managed at home and treated with ice or cold compress. Athletes need to rest their legs to avoid further damage, reduce swelling and heal. Applying ice wrapped on a cloth for 20 minutes at a time will help reduce inflammation, swelling and pain.
Other ways to lessen leg pain due to sports injuries include the use of bandage compression, and elevation of the leg above the level of the heart to help reduce pain and swelling.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications can help relieve pain, but if they persist for more than three days, seek medical advice. Going back to sports after an injury should be made gradually to safely build up strength, flexibility and endurance.
In case of claudication and other vascular leg pain causes, medical attention is necessary as it can lead to stroke or heart attack. To lessen the risks, patients are advised to do moderate exercises, avoid or quit smoking, control blood pressure, manage blood sugar and cholesterol, stick to antiplatelet therapy and follow a healthy diet.
Keep in mind that there are different causes and types of leg pain. Sometimes the symptoms overlap, thus proper diagnosis should be made. If they persist or become worse, seek medical attention immediately. Diagnosis should rule out unrelated causes to narrow down the possibilities and provide the right treatment and intervention.
Chiropractic Care for Leg Pain
Depending on diagnosis, treatment for leg pain typically varies. And generally, the main focus of treatment is pain control. It can include stretching, pain medication, ice or heat therapy, rest and rehabilitation exercises.
Leg pain that is back-related is best addressed with chiropractic care and treatment. Chiropractors will make a diagnosis to identify the real cause of the pain and work in line with the underlying cause. Medications may just mask the cause of pain and not treat it. In any type of pain, it is best to address the real cause to prevent it from worsening.
If the leg pain is due to misalignments of the spine or subluxations, you will benefit greatly by seeking chiropractic treatment. Misalignments put pressure on the nerves, cause pain and interfere with the functions of the nervous system.
A chiropractor will apply gentle and effective adjustments to put back your spine in proper alignment. It will relieve the pressure on the nerves and allow the system to function as it should.
Where to Find a Chiropractor To Handle Leg Pain
Although common, leg pain should be diagnosed properly and for appropriate treatment to be provided. There are some treatment options that only mask the pain instead of addressing the real cause of the problem. If you want a holistic approach to painful conditions, you should consider finding a chiropractor.
Many people are still not aware of the amazing benefits of chiropractic care for managing pain at the back, neck and legs. But it is now used to treat a range of physical issues including migraines, carpal tunnel, sciatica leg pain, muscle strain and injury-related painful conditions.