Many reasons exist for leg pain. The lower part of our legs bears the burden of daily activities and can’t always live up to these tasks for myriad reasons. Here are a few:
- Muscle Cramps – Cramps occur during sleep or in the middle of the day and are a sudden, intense, cramping pain (Charley horse) that occurs when muscles are fatigued or dehydrated. It’s a sign you need to drink more water, but relief can be found with massage or gentle stretching.
- Shin splints – Muscles and skin along the edge of shin become inflamed, which causes pain with walking, running, or jumping. It’s often caused by repetitive activity on a hard surface, or by having flat or turned out feet. Rest, ice, and Ibuprofen are the most common treatments and should be followed by stretching, wearing comfortable shoes, and avoiding running on hard surfaces.
- Tendinitis – Pain in the lower calf, which can be related to inflammation of Achilles tendon, is typically the result of an overworked calf muscle or climbing stairs. Again, ice and anti-inflammatory medications are best, followed by appropriate stretching.
- Lower-extremity peripheral artery disease – Occurs when the arteries in the legs become damaged and hardened. When arteries are calcified with plaque, they can narrow or become blocked which prevents the legs from receiving oxygenated blood. In the early stages, the pain can be relieved with rest. Risk factors include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, uncontrolled diabetes, morbid obesity, and tobacco use. Lifestyle change is the best prevention. If all else fails, you may need surgery to improve blood flow to the leg.
- Varieties of nerve pain – Most common are narrowing of the spinal canal and sciatica. Arthritis of the spine can cause narrowing of the spinal canal, and a herniated disc can put pressure on nerve roots, which leads to burning, cramping leg pain with standing or sitting. Additional symptoms include numbness, tingling, fatigue, and weakness. Pain typically begins in the back or hip and extends down the back side of the leg. Treatment requires a combination of physical therapy, stretching, anti-inflammatory medication, or surgery. Diabetic neuropathy occurs when nerves in the legs are damaged from chronically elevated blood sugar levels causing pain in both legs with eventual numbness and loss of sensation.
- Vein disease – Legs can hurt from varicose vein and chronic venous insufficiency, too. Dark blue, twisted veins near the skin surface result from weak vein walls and malfunctioning valves. Some of the causes are genetics, obesity, hormones, and prolonged standing or sitting. Pooling blood can compress the nerves resulting in leg fatigue, cramping, swelling, skin color changes, unexplained itching, and restless leg symptoms. Left untreated, vein disease progresses at 4% per year.
If you feel your leg pain is caused by vein disease, or to rule it out, contact Florida Lakes Vein Center for a free vein screening. It’s a No Veiner!SM
Florida Lakes Vein Center offers appointments in Lakewood Ranch Tuesdays & Thursdays 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Call for a FREE vein screening. 941.866.8989