The Causes Behind Leg Pain

Symptoms and diagnosis for Leg Pain
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By Orthopaedic and Neurology Clinic

Leg pain info

What is define by a Leg Pain?

Leg pain can be sharp, dull, numbing, tingling, burning, radiating, or aching.

Pain occurs when nerves respond to stimuli such as high levels of pressure, high or low temperatures, and chemicals, which can be released by tissue damage.

It can also be acute, meaning sudden and short term, or it can also be chronic and persistent. Severity can be rated on a scale from 1 to 10, or from mild to severe.

Injury sustained during a sports game or in an accident is normally acute and traumatic. The person can often identify the cause.

Other causes, such as peripheral arterial disease (PAD), tend to build up over time, although the person may be able to pinpoint the onset of pain.

Some sports injuries build up over time, such as repetitive strain injuries and stress fractures. Traumatic injuries can also become long-term, or chronic, problems if the individual does not rest or seek treatment.

It is important to be aware of what was happening before and around the time that leg pain emerged, as this can help decide when to seek medical treatment.

What are some symptoms of a Leg Pain?

Leg pain is also frequently a sign of injury, such as the following:

  • Muscle strain is a common injury that happens when the muscle fibers tear as a result of overstretching. It often occurs in the larger muscles, such as the hamstrings, calves, or quadriceps.
  • Tendinitis is inflammation of a tendon. Tendons are thick cords that join the muscles to bone. When they become inflamed, it can be difficult to move the affected joint. Tendinitis often affects tendons in the hamstrings or near the heel bone.
  • Knee bursitis happens when the fluid-filled sacs, or bursa, surrounding the knee joint become inflamed.
  • Shin splints cause pain along the inner edge of the shinbone, or tibia. The injury can occur when the muscles around the shinbone tear as a result of overuse.
  • Stress fractures are tiny breaks in the leg bones, particularly those in the shinbone.

Certain medical conditions commonly lead to leg pain. These include:

  • Atherosclerosis is the narrowing and hardening of the arteries due to a buildup of fat and cholesterol. Arteries are the blood vessels that carry oxygen-rich blood throughout your body. When there’s a blockage, it reduces blood flow to various parts of your body. If the tissues in the leg don’t receive enough oxygen, it can result in leg pain, particularly in the calves.
  • Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) occurs when a blood clot forms in a vein located deep inside the body. A blood clot is a clump of blood that’s in a solid state. DVTs typically form in the lower leg after long periods of bed rest, causing swelling and cramping pain.
  • Arthritis is an inflammation of the joints. The condition may cause swelling, pain, and redness in the affected area. It often affects joints in the knees and hips.
  • Gout is a form of arthritis that can occur when too much uric acid builds up in the body. It usually causes pain, swelling, and redness in the feet and lower part of the legs.
  • Varicose veins are knotted and enlarged veins that form when the veins overfill with blood due to incompetent valves. They usually appear swollen or raised and can be painful. They most often occur in the calves and ankles.
  • Infection in the bone or tissues of the leg can cause swelling, redness, or pain in the affected area.
  • Nerve damage in the leg may cause numbness, pain, or tingling. It often occurs in the feet and lower part of the legs as a result of diabetes.

“The course of leg pain depends on the underlying cause. Leg pain due to radiculopathy is common and may be well managed with nonsurgical treatment, with 75% to 90% improvement in symptoms. If the pain becomes chronic and neurological symptoms such as weakness and numbness persist or worsen, surgery may be recommended.”

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What types of diagnosis?

Our doctor may ask and conduct one or more of the following tests to determine whether you have leg pain:

    • History of symptoms. To diagnose leg pain, our doctor will first want to get your full medical history. This includes whether you have had any recent injuries, where you feel the pain, and how the pain feels.
    • Physical examination. Our doctor will include testing your muscle strength and reflexes. He might also ask you to do some stretching and moving exercises to determine which activities cause more pain.
    • X-rays. This is required to make certain there are no broken bones, but often with stress or overuse injuries where no direct blow has occurred. Standing X-rays of the knees are used to assess the joint space and compare the injured knee to the uninjured one.
    • MRI, CT scan. This scan can provide more-detailed views of the bones in your leg and may spot fractures that don’t show up on X-rays.

Possible neurological issues of leg pain?

Sometimes the source of some pain is problems with your nerves.

Narrowed spinal canal (stenosis) and sciatica. A common cause of a narrowed spinal canal is arthritis of the spine. Sometimes a herniated disc puts pressure on nearby nerve roots, which can lead to symptoms of sciatica, such as:

  • Burning, cramping leg pain when standing or sitting
  • Numbness
  • Tingling
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness

Pain may begin in your back and hip, then later extend down into your leg. Rest is often the cure for other pains of the leg, but not this one. It doesn’t help sciatica.

 

Treatment may involve resting for a few days, along with taking anti-inflammatories and pain medications. Cold and heat can help with some symptoms. Physical therapy and stretching exercises are often useful. Gradually increase movement over time. Your doctor may also recommend other treatments or surgery if your pain doesn’t get better.

Diabetic neuropathy is a common complication of diabetes. Nerves can be damaged from high blood sugar levels. It can cause pain in both of your legs along with numbness and less sensation in the lower legs.

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