It’s natural enough to get sore legs if you fall over, go for a big run, start a new weights routine or otherwise work or injure muscles out of the blue. However, lots of people shake off niggling concerns about leg pain when there’s no good reason for them to have it – when they really should be investigating it further. Read on for three causes of leg pain you should know about today.
Sciatica and Other Back Problems
You might not immediately put two and two together, but a lot of leg pain comes from sciatica and other back problems. Sciatica is the name of a condition where the sciatic nerve is inflamed. When this occurs, pain stems from the lower back down into the leg and potentially to feet as well. It’s usually something that happens on just one side of the body, and it can build up more and more over time or develop quite suddenly, depending on the case.
Sciatica can crop up because of numerous issues, such as muscle spasms, spinal stenosis (where the spinal canal narrows and puts pressure on the nerves), a spinal injury and more. It’s quite difficult to diagnose and can be tricky to treat, so it’s best to seek advice and pain management treatment options from a specialist in Michigan, Seattle, Los Angeles, Ohio or wherever else you may be located.
Other types of back problems can also lead to leg pain. One that you need to be aware of is cauda equine syndrome (CES). This rare disorder puts pressure on the nerves located at the end of the spinal cord. This pressure can cause the nerves to swell, which leads to numbness and/or loss of bladder or bowel control. If you notice signs of this, seek treatment ASAP, as surgical intervention will likely be needed. Note that if you don’t get it addressed quickly, you could end up with permanent paralysis, long-term bladder and/or bowel control issues and other neurological and physical problems.
Issues With Your Blood Vessels
You’ve probably heard of the term DVT (which is the acronym for deep vein thrombosis) but never thought much about it. However, it is a blood vessel issue you should learn about. It occurs when a blood clot appears within a deep vein, and it can cause severe leg pain because it makes it hard for the limbs to return blood back to the heart.
DVT (which usually happens after an extended period of inactivity) may cause a clot to develop within the vein if the blood slows down too much or stops completely. Scarily, it’s possible for a part of the clot to break off and move to your lungs. If this happens, you can have a pulmonary embolism (blood- flow to the lungs is blocked) and get very sick or even die. Be on the lookout for signs such as pain in just one leg, a swollen limb or a leg that is turning a bluish color. Pain will usually build up over a few hours, too.
Another health concern related to the blood vessels is peripheral arterial disease, or PAD. It is felt as leg pain when people exercise or are otherwise active and moving around. PAD arises when the arteries which take blood to your limbs narrow. When the muscles in your legs need more blood because you’re being physical, you will feel pain because of the limited blood supply that’s able to get through to your legs. This is known as intermittent claudication.
Although the pain of peripheral arterial disease often goes away once sufferers stop moving, it should still be looked into by a doctor. This is because the arterial disease is usually caused by a buildup of plaque or fatty deposits, which themselves can be a sign of other potentially serious health concerns. People who are most likely to develop PAD are those who are obese, those who have high cholesterol or blood pressure levels and those who smoke.
Lastly, arthritis is a health problem experienced by an estimated 50-plus million adults in the United States alone. This joint disease can attack various areas of the body but is often felt in joints in the legs as well as the surrounding muscles. When joints are under stress, the muscles around them have to work harder to try and protect them. This often leads to muscle spasms and secondary pain.
Whether you have osteoarthritis, the most common form of the problem, or rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease, you may well feel pain in your knees, feet, or ankles. There are pain and inflammation-reliving drugs available these days which may help you to cope with this affliction, so speak to a doctor for treatment options.
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