Chronic leg pain

An Overview

Pain can occur in your leg for any number of reasons, most commonly as the result of muscle strain or injury. Leg pain can range between mild and severe, and in most cases will disappear within a short amount of time with the help of home remedies and rest. Sometimes, a more serious medical condition could be causing your leg pain, and this cannot be ignored. When leg pain is persistent or gets worse instead of better, there is a need for prompt medical attention.
If you feel acute or chronic pain in the leg, calf, thigh or lower back, there are things you can do to help reduce your discomfort. Leg pain can originate in the bones, connective tissues, blood vessels, nerves or skin. If you have severe or long-lasting leg pain, it can have a negative impact on your quality of life.

Often, leg pain is caused by inflammation (swelling) of tissues. Swelling may be a symptom of disease or injury. Leg pain can be caused by a number of conditions or injuries. The first step in treating leg pain is to get an accurate diagnosis of the cause of your symptoms. Based on your diagnosis, you and your doctor or pain specialist can determine your best treatment options.

Symptoms for Chronic leg pain

Pain in the legs can occur as a result of conditions that affect bones, joints, muscles, tendons, ligaments, blood vessels, nerves, or skin. Leg pain can occur in the foot, ankle, knee, behind the knee, thigh, down the back of the leg, or in any part of the leg. It can occur at night, while lying down, or while running or exercising, depending upon the cause. Depending on the cause, leg pain can occur in one leg only or in both legs. Be sure to inform your doctor of all your symptoms. Some symptoms of leg pain can include:
• Pain in one or both legs, with or without back pain
• Foot pain
• Pain that comes on suddenly or comes and goes
• Redness or discoloration of the skin on the leg
• Swelling in the leg, ankle or calf
• Distended veins
• Weakness
• Leg skin that is warm to the touch
• Itching or throbbing skin
• Pain that worsens when walking or exercising
• Sciatica leg pain or pain that radiates down the back of the leg toward the feet
• General leg stiffness or morning stiffness
• Numbness, tingling or throbbing
• Muscle pain / muscle aches

Causes of Chronic leg pain

Cramps: Cramps trigger sudden pain in the leg as the muscles sharply contract. The tight muscles form a visible and hard lump that is tender to the touch. Fatigue and dehydration can cause cramps, and home remedies are effective at relieving cramp pain.
Injuries: Common leg injuries include muscle strains and inflammation, as muscle fibers get overstretched or torn as a result of physical activity. Tendinitis is also common, which is when the tendons in your leg become inflamed and difficult to move. Stress fractures in the leg bones can also cause pain.
Atherosclerosis: This condition causes arteries to harden as a result of cholesterol buildup. The blocked arteries prevent blood flow to the legs, which results in frequent pain, particularly in the calves.
Arthritis: Inflamed joints prevent mobility and cause pain and swelling through the leg around the affected joints.
Blood clots: Blood clots caused by medications or blood vessel damage can cause pain and swelling in the legs. Varicose veins are also common with blood clots, and these are a result of restricted circulation.

Medical conditions

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.

Treatment

Treatment for leg pain will depend on the cause. How can you ease the discomfort of leg pain? Your treatment options depend on the underlying cause and severity of your leg pain.
Treatment may start with conservative therapies, such as over-the-counter aspirin, acetaminophen or ibuprofen. These nonprescription medications can be effective for certain types of leg pain when taken according to instructions.
You may also consider home care such as drinking plenty of water to reduce leg cramps.
When the cause of your leg pain is a minor injury or muscle cramp, you can treat the pain at home. Effective pain-relieving methods to try at home include:
♦ Resting and elevating your leg
♦ Over-the-counter pain medications
♦ Wearing compression stockings
♦ Applying ice on the affected area a few times each day
♦ Taking a warm bath
♦ Gently stretching the affected leg muscles

Preventing leg pain

You should always take time to stretch your muscles before and after exercising to prevent leg pain due to physical activity. It’s also helpful to eat foods that are high in potassium, such as bananas and chicken, to help prevent injuries of the leg muscles and tendons.
You can help prevent medical conditions that may cause nerve damage in the legs by doing the following:
• Exercise for 30 minutes per day, five days per week.
• Maintain a healthy weight.
• Avoid smoking.
• Monitor your cholesterol and blood pressure, and take steps to keep them under control.
• Limit your alcohol consumption to one drink per day if you’re a woman or two drinks per day if you’re a man.

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