Leg pain may be intermittent or constant, develop gradually or suddenly and affect a localized area on your leg such as the knee or the shin or your entire leg. The pain can be sharp, dull, stabbing, tingling or aching. Some type of leg pain is just annoying but more severe type of pain may affect your ability to bear weight on the leg or to walk.
Neurological conditions, problems with blood circulation and infectious diseases all can affect the leg. However, majority of the leg pain occurs as a result of injury, overuse and wear or tear related to age of the bones, muscles, joints, ligaments and tendons of the legs. These problems are usually not serious and can be prevented and treated by using self-care and lifestyle measures.
Leg pain may occur due to injuries such as:
Inflammatory, Degenerative and Autoimmune Diseases
Leg pain may occur due to degeneration of the joints, autoimmune diseases and inflammatory diseases, such as:
Life-Threatening or Serious Conditions
In some situations, pain in leg may indicate a life-threatening or serious condition that requires emergency medical evaluation. Some of these leg pain causes are:
Other Rare Conditions
Leg pain may occur due to certain rare illnesses that do not become evident immediately. Some of these conditions are:
Visit an emergency room or call for emergency medical help if:
Visit your physician as early as possible if you develop:
Schedule a visit to a physician if:
To evaluate the leg pain, the physician interviews the patient and does a physical examination so as to determine the potential leg pain causes. Whether diagnostic testing such as X-rays and blood tests is required or not depends upon the physician’s concern as to what is causing the leg pain. In some cases, X-rays and testing are not needed.
Blood tests such as a WBC (white blood cell) count, an ESR (erythrocyte sedimentation rate) and a C-reactive protein (CRP) may help in the detection of an infection. The WBC count is usually elevated in an infection unless the immune system of the patient is compromised due to which it may appear falsely normal. If CRP and ESR are elevated, they require to be interpreted in regard to the specific condition that is being suspected.
Uric acid measurement may be done if gout is considered as the cause of leg pain. Certain other blood tests may be done depending upon the leg pain causes being considered.
Treatment depends on the underlying causes. Home treatments may take care of minor leg pain. To relieve mild leg pain and swelling:
In patients who have chronic medical illness, prevention is the key to treatment. Neuropathic pain in diabetics is very difficult to control; lifestyle measures to control blood sugar minimize the risk of neuropathy and development of other complications later in life.
Individualization of home care should be done for every patient. Your physician is the important resource for diagnosis and treatment of leg pain. If symptoms of acute leg pain occur along with swelling, loss of feeling and cold leg, medical care must be sought immediately.