Leg pain is a common complaint of many people that could be caused by injuries or overexertion. But what happens when the pain is more severe or doesn’t go away? Here are some of the most common reasons people may experience leg pain. If your leg pain is severe or long-lasting, contact your doctor.
Peripheral Artery Disease
Peripheral artery disease is one of the more serious causes of leg pain. The arteries that bring blood to your limbs can become inflamed and stiff, which can cause leg pain when exercising or getting up from a seated position. If caught early enough, you may be able to prevent permanent damage by taking medication or going through physical therapy.
Peripheral artery disease is a condition caused by atherosclerosis in the peripheral arteries. Atherosclerosis is when the walls of the arteries harden and the blood vessels narrow. Arteries are the blood vessels that bring oxygen and nutrients to your body, including your leg muscles. These blockages can be especially dangerous in the leg arteries because it makes it difficult for oxygenated blood to reach your feet.
Some conditions that contribute to atherosclerosis are high cholesterol, obesity, and other factors that increase your risk of high blood pressure and heart disease. If you have diabetes or a family history of this condition, you should be particularly cautious.
Peripheral artery disease can lead to tissue damage and even amputation, so if you are experiencing the symptoms, contact your doctor immediately.
Healthy lifestyle changes can decrease your risk of developing peripheral artery disease. These include eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and quitting smoking. Moderate activity such as walking lowers your risk by helping keep your arteries flexible. There are also some treatments available. Minimally invasive endovascular procedures are an option that has fewer risks involved and a quicker recovery time than other procedures.
Venous insufficiency is when the blood vessels become enlarged due to blood pooling because of issues with pumping blood back to the heart. It is common in people who have jobs that require prolonged standing and those who are pregnant. Varicose veins are venous insufficiency in the superficial veins, such as the legs, hands, or face.
Treatments for venous insufficiency include elevating legs while sleeping, compression stockings, and other lifestyle changes like exercise and weight loss. Venous insufficiency can cause discomfort or aching pain. Contact your doctor if you have pain or a significant number of varicose veins.
Studies have shown a correlation between varicose veins and heart disease. Varicose veins can be indicative of cardiovascular disease. You should consult with your doctor to determine if your leg pain is due to this condition.
Shin splints can be caused by overuse or repetitive stress on the shin bone or a traumatic injury to the tibia.
Shin splints are a common diagnosis among runners, but it has many other causes. People who have had long periods of inactivity should consult their doctor to determine if they may have shin splints.
The condition is cured by resting and decreasing the intensity of your activity. You can also wear a brace or other equipment to support your legs and help relieve the stress on your shins.
Leg pain can also be caused by a condition known as sciatica, which is an inflammation of the sciatic nerve. It occurs when the nerve becomes irritated from pressure or irritation on one side of the body. Sciatica can be caused by back pain, an injury or infections in the area where it travels, and even a tumor or herniated disc in your spine.
Sciatica can be temporary or chronic, which means it is not curable with medication and will last for an extended period. Typically, patients will experience acute sciatica in which the pain comes and goes. Chronic sciatica can lead to permanent nerve damage. It is more common among older people and those with multiple medical conditions like diabetes or arthritis.
Leg pain is usually worse when lying down or getting up from a seated position for people suffering from sciatica. Patients with sciatica should stay as active as possible to relieve stress on the nerve and help prevent long-term nerve damage.
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, brought on by inflammation of the cartilage that supports your joints. The cause of osteoarthritis is typically overuse or repeated stress on your knee joint.
Osteoarthritis usually occurs in both knees on both sides but can be painful in any joint and may affect only one or two joints. Osteoarthritis can also occur in other joints, but symptoms may not be as severe. Symptoms are typically less acute than those associated with osteoarthritis in the knee.
Osteoarthritis is most common in people over 50 years old, but it can also occur among younger people that have obesity, diabetes, or who have experienced a traumatic injury.
Osteoarthritis treatment options include changing lifestyle habits, taking medications, or a total knee replacement. There is also a minimally invasive procedure called Genicular Artery Embolization that can reduce osteoarthritis knee pain. It blocks capillaries from supplying blood to the inflamed tissue that causes knee pain.
Now you know some sources of leg pain. Some of the causes of leg pain are more severe than others. If you have severe or prolonged leg pain, you should see a doctor. If you think that you have peripheral artery disease, osteoarthritis, or venous insufficiency, contact Modern Vascular and speak to a patient advocate about the symptoms that you are experiencing.