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Leg pain – Know the possible causes

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By Dr. Santosh B. Patil, Consultant Neuro and Vascular Interventional Radiologist, The Vein Center

Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India], July 7: Leg pain is a fairly common complaint. Leg pain can be due to a variety of causes that affect joints, muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, and blood vessels. Here are some commonly seen causes of leg pain:

  1. Peripheral arterial disease:

PAD is a circulatory issue that affects the body’s arteries and is commonly seen in diabetics and smokers. Symptoms begin when fat clogs the arteries and blocks blood flow to the leg. The symptoms include leg fatigue and muscle cramps, especially after walking. The blocks in the arteries can be treated by minimally invasive methods such as angioplasty and stenting.

  1. Varicose veins:

Varicose veins occur when valves in the veins of the legs don’t work properly and begin to collect blood. This causes the veins to enlarge, become tortuous and cause tiredness, heaviness, and pain in the legs. Usually, self-care measures, such as exercise, elevation, and compression stockings, can help alleviate these symptoms in the initial stages. Currently, newer non-surgical treatment methods like VenaSeal are available which give instant relief from varicose vein symptoms.

  1. Deep Venous Thrombosis

In this condition, there is the formation of blood clots in the deep veins of the legs. It causes swelling, redness, and pain in the legs. It is a potentially dangerous condition as the clots from the veins of the legs can break off and travel to the arteries of the lung causing pulmonary thromboembolism (lung attack). Blood-thinning medications form the mainstay of treatment. Newer treatment methods like mechanical thrombectomy and intravenous thrombolysis help to rapidly clear these clots in the veins.

  1. Peripheral neuropathy

This happens when there is damage to the nerves in the leg. Diabetes is the most common cause of this condition, but few other health conditions, injuries, and infections can also cause nerve damage. Patients often have burning or tingling sensation, numbness, or weakness of the leg. Treatment involves correcting the underlying condition, neuro-protective medicines, and other symptomatic medications.

  1. Spinal canal stenosis

Spinal can stenosis occurs when the space in the bones of the back is narrowed putting pressure on the nerves of the leg. This causes pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness of the legs. Medications and physiotherapy are the initial modes of treatment. If symptoms are persistent, surgery is required.

  1. Tendinitis

Tendon is a structure that connects muscle to bone. Tendinitis is a war and tear injury resulting in inflammation of the tendon and is commonly seen at the ankle, knee, or hip. Anti-inflammatory medications, rest, and ice pack application help in recovery.

  1. Muscle pulls and Sprain

Muscle pull occurs commonly in people who play sports and do heavy exercises. A sprain occurs when ligaments (tissue that connects bones to bones) get stretched. An ankle sprain is common. Treatment mainly consists of rest, ice pack, compression, and over-the-counter analgesic medications.

  1. Stress fractures

A stress fracture happens due to repetitive trauma often from overuse, such as long-distance running or jumping up and down. It can also happen from the normal use of a bone that is weakened due to a disease like osteoporosis. These fractures commonly occur in the shin bone, foot, heel, and hip. Rest and immobilization is the best treatment and it can take up to 6 to 8 weeks to heal.

  1. Arthritis

It is a common condition that affects the joints of the legs. It causes pain, swelling, and stiffness of joints leading to difficulty in walking and other day-to-day activities. Appropriate evaluation by a trained doctor is needed to determine the type of arthritis and further treatment can be planned accordingly.

  1. Electrolyte imbalance

Electrolytes such as calcium, sodium, and potassium are important for the proper functioning of the muscles and bones. Any imbalance can cause muscle fatigue, cramps, weakness, and numbness. It is important to see a doctor and determine the best treatment option.

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