Leg pain is caused by many different factors. Generally, underlying medical conditions can lead to leg pain. Several commonly occurring conditions such as varicose veins, deep-vein thrombosis, and atherosclerosis result in varying degrees of leg pain. Varicose veins are spider veins that form near the surface of the skin and are gorged with blood due to poorly functioning valves. Varicose veins can be painful in the affected areas, notably the ankles, calves, and thighs.
Deep-vein thrombosis is more serious and can result in blood clots deep within the body. Blood clots can be deadly, since these are solid clumps of blood that block veins and cause acute pain, cramping, and leg swelling. Atherosclerosis occurs when too much fat and cholesterol block the lining of the arteries. These blockages diminish blood flow to different parts of the body, starving the extremities of oxygen. This can result in painful calves, thighs, and feet.
Other medical conditions which exacerbate leg pain, are gout (excess uric acid). Gout is extremely painful, and affects the calves and feet, particularly the big toes. Severe pain and swelling often accompanies a bout of gout. Arthritis is another condition which can bring on crippling leg pain. Since arthritis is an inflammatory disease, joints tend to experience significant pain, and reduced usage. Arthritis is prevalent in the hips, knees, and ankles.
Other medical conditions can cause mild, moderate, or severe leg pain. These include both benign and malignant tumors and slipped discs in the spine which compress the nerves and radiate through the legs. Other medical conditions associated with reduced blood supply can have an adverse effect on connective tissues such as tendons, ligaments, muscles, and even bones. Pain tends to radiate between the hips and knees with swelling, tenderness, inflammation, and reduced usability.
How to Treat Leg Pain?
A complete and thorough diagnosis is required before leg pain can be treated effectively. For this purpose, a medical doctor should be consulted. Doctors include general practitioners, podiatrists, orthopedic surgeons, rheumatologists, physical therapists, chiropractors, personal trainers, physiatrists, et cetera. You can find important information for example at Upstep, which can help treat your foot pain, and the general leg pain that you may be experiencing.
For example, flat feet are routinely the cause of tremendous pain, aches, and cramps. Given that the feet bear the full weight of the body, it is necessary to take care of one’s feet to the best of your abilities. Many peripheral problems plague the feet, besides flat feet which require insoles. Other issues include cuts, bruises, blisters, sprains, strains, infections, incorrect posture, and dealing with injuries. Podiatric physicians focus expressly on the feet and ankles.
Since many patients suffering from leg pain find themselves immobile, home treatment regimens are often sought out. One of the most commonly asked questions among patients is use of heat or ice for treating leg pain. As a rule, ice is used after an injury for the first three days. Products, like from bodyice.com, reduces swelling and inflammation and controls pain. Heat is used for soothing and relaxing stiff muscles. In either case, doctors recommend no more than 10 minute – 15-minute sessions of ice or heat therapy at a time.
Once the ice or heat has been applied, it’s important to rest the leg as comfortable as possible. Always elevate the painful legs by propping them up underneath pillows. It is also recommended that patients take over-the-counter pain relievers or anti-inflammatory medication to help with the discomfort. If necessary, patients may be required to wear compression stockings to assist with pain relief.
Experts recommend exercising for at least 30 minutes every day (cardiovascular or weightlifting) at least five days a week. Equally important is balanced nutrition to maintain a healthy weight. The more overweight you are, the greater the pressure that is brought to bear on your legs. Leg pain is often well-managed by taking a hot bath. Afterwards, it’s important to gradually stretch the muscles with a variety of targeted exercises. For example, pain in your quadriceps can be alleviated by bending over and gently reaching towards your toes.
Pain in your lower legs can be alleviated by straightening out your toes while you are standing or sitting. While stretching, hold the position for several seconds before retracting. That way, the muscles will get the full benefit of the action. Of course, if ever the leg pain becomes too severe it may be necessary to consult an urgent care clinic or an emergency room. If your skin is hot to the touch, if you’re running a fever, or if there is severe pain and cramping, these could be signs of a much more serious underlying condition.
Leg Pain is Exacerbated by Smoking & Drinking
The problems with smoking go well beyond breathing difficulties. Researchers the world over have long established that smoking invariably leads to a narrowing of blood vessels and arteries. This reduces blood flow, increases blood pressure, and oftentimes results in clots. By reducing blood flow to the extremities such as the hands and feet, severe pain results.
Peripheral artery disease is a known offender with people who suffer from leg pain. Risks persist for up to 3 decades after a smoker has stopped smoking. In fact, Johns Hopkins University researchers found that there is a much stronger correlation between peripheral artery disease and smokers than there is with coronary heart disease and strokes. Smoking is associated with elevated health risks, and leg pain is a common side effect of excessive smoking.
Drinking contributes to high levels of uric acid in the body. This can result in gout, an extremely painful inflammatory condition which manifests in the lower legs or feet of individuals. Nerve tissues suffer from alcohol consumption, and pain is often felt in the limbs. This condition – alcoholic neuropathy – is common among binge drinkers and alcoholics. Similarly, alcohol consumption is strongly correlated with nocturnal leg cramping in older patients. Studies by Ann Fam Med (2018 July) found that there was a strong association between the global consumption of alcoholic beverages and nocturnal leg cramps in people 60 years + of age. Cramps are a common symptom of alcoholic myopathy, with selective atrophy occurring in the tissue.
While foot and leg pain can be crippling, there are many remedies that can be employed to great effect. Take care of your feet, and your legs. Begin with a balanced diet, careful weight management, and continue with healthy living, exercise and application of the appropriate treatment regimens. This approach is a step in the right direction!