Managing Severe Leg Pain
Leg pain may occur in any part of the leg ad and can be varied from a dull ache to an intense stabbing sensation. Most pain in the leg is a result of overuse or minor injuries. These can be treated with home remedies and disappear after a short period of time.
In certain cases, a serious medical problem may be the source of the pain. If experiencing intense or constant leg pain, you should seek medical attention. A prompt diagnosis and treatment for the source of the pain may prevent your condition from worsening.
Cramps, otherwise known as a muscle cramp or spasm usually causes sudden, severe pain as the leg muscles contract. Muscle fatigue and dehydration may lead to cramps particularly in the calf.
Leg pain is also often due to injury. Such injuries include:
- Muscle strain, which occurs when muscle fibers tear from overstretching.
- Tendinitis is inflammation of the tendon. When the tendons are inflamed, it may be challenging to move the joint.
- Knee bursitis is another source for leg pain which occurs when the fluid filled sacs located around the knee joint become inflamed.
- Shin splints is a source of pain along the tibia or shinbone. This occurs when the muscles around the shinbone tear due to overuse.
- Stress fractures are also a source of pain and are very small breaks in the bone, particularly in the shinbone.
Medical conditions may also cause leg pain including:
- Atherosclerosis which is a narrowing and hardening of arteries due to the buildup for fat and cholesterol.
- Deep vein thrombosis is when there are blood clots that form in a vein deep in the interior of the body. This may cause pain in the lower leg, especially after extended periods of bed rest.
- Arthritis may cause swelling, redness and pain due to an inflammation of the joints.
- Gout is a type of arthritis that occurs when there is a build up of uric acid in the body. This usually causes pain and other symptoms to occur in the feet and lower legs.
- Varicose veins which are knotted and enlarged veins occur when the veins are overfilled with blood because of incompetent valves. They are usually raised and may be painful.
- Infection in the bone or leg tissue can cause pain in the affected area.
- Nerve damage within the leg may cause numbness, pain, or tingling. This may be the result of diabetes.
Other less common causes of leg pain include:
- A slipped herniated disc where the rubbery disc between the vertebrate shifts out of place and compresses the nerve in the spine.
- Osgood-Schlatter disease occurs when the tendon between the kneecap and shinbone is strained. It causes a painful growth to form below the knee which becomes tender and swollen.
- Legg-Calve-Perthes disease is caused by an interruption of bloody supply to the ball of the hip joint. The lack of blood may cause a lot of damage to the bone and may result in permanent deformation.
- Slipped capital femoral epiphysis which is a separation of the ball of the hip joint from the thighbone, causing pain in the hip.
- Noncancerous, benign tumors can also form in the thigh bone or shin bone.
- Cancerous, or malignant tumors may form on the leg bones such as the thighbone and shinbone.
Leg pain usually can be treated at home particularly if it's due to cramps or minor injury. Resting your legs and elevating them may provide some relief. Taking an over-the-counter pain reliever, such as aspirin or ibuprofen may mitigate pain as your leg improves. Wearing compression socks with support may also be beneficial. Applying ice at least 4 times a day for 15 minutes at a time may also be helpful. Taking a warm bath and stretching your muscles may also provide relief.
You should see a doctor when there is swelling in both legs, or if you have varicose veins that are causing discomfort, or if you experience pain while walking, or if you have persistent leg pain that remains beyond a few days.
You should go to the hospital immediately if you have a fever, if you have a gash on your leg, if your leg is red and warm to the touch, if you leg is pale and feels cool to the touch, if your having difficulty breathing and have swelling on both legs, if you're unable to walk, or if you have a leg injury that was accompanied with a pop or grinding noise.
Preventing medical conditions that can potentially cause nerve damage in the legs can be accomplished by exercising, maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding smoking, monitoring your cholesterol and blood pressure, and by limiting your consumption of alcohol.