If you experience regular leg pain, it could be caused by a vascular issue.
It’s normal, especially for runners and people who work on their feet, to experience leg pain. Leg pain could be a symptom of various conditions from tendentious to simple leg cramps. However, some people don’t realize their leg pain is caused by a problem with their heart or veins.
Pain in your lower leg or thigh may be the cause of a blood clot. When clots form in muscles, known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT), it can cause pain in the affected area of the body.
Additionally, DVT can lead to other health complications. If a part of your blood clot breaks off into the bloodstream, it could cause a stroke, pulmonary embolism or heart attack.
Risk factors associated with DVT include:
- Inactivity: people who stand or sit for long periods of time at work are encouraged to move and change positions every hour.
- Old age
Treatment for DVT is medication in the form of certain blood thinners (like aspirin, for example), support socks and losing weight.
In extreme cases, your doctor may use a type of medication called a clot buster or have a filter surgically implanted into your vena cava (the large vein leading to your lungs) to prevent a pulmonary embolism.
If you suspect you have a blood clot, see your doctor or go to the hospital as soon as possible.
Peripheral Artery Disease
If you suffer from leg pain at night, you may have a condition called Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD).
This disease can cause upper leg pain and lower leg pain due to blocked circulation. Not having enough blood circulation to tissue inside your legs can result in cramping and numbness, this symptom is called claudication.
Blockage of blood flow in your legs is likely due to hardening of your arteries from fatty deposits and plaque buildup. This buildup of plaque is called atherosclerosis, and it can take decades to develop. In fact, most people with PAD and atherosclerosis are over the age of 65.
Other signs of PAD include:
- Pain after climbing stairs which goes away after a few minutes of rest
- Sensation of coldness in your lower leg and foot
- Sores on your legs, feet or toes which won’t go away
- Loss of leg hair
- Toenails which slow or stop growing
The way to treat PAD is by treating underlying atherosclerosis which is causing your symptoms.
Treatment can come in the form of medication like beta blockers and antiplatelets (like aspirin). Changes in lifestyle can also make a large impact on atherosclerosis such as losing weight, exercise if it’s appropriate to do so, and changing to a healthier diet.
If you suffer from hip and leg pain, you may be suffering from Avascular Necrosis.
Avascular necrosis causes bone tissue to die due to a lack of blood circulation. This condition can lead to brittle bones which can lead to bone fractures and breaks over time.
It’s possible you won’t experience any symptoms of avascular necrosis in its early stages. As the disease progresses, you’ll feel pain when you put pressure on the affected bone or joint. Eventually you will feel pain even without putting weight on your hip or another area where avascular necrosis has taken place.
A common cause of avascular necrosis is bone or joint trauma, but it can also be caused by excessive alcohol consumption, blood clots, diabetes, and other conditions.
Avascular necrosis can be treated with blood thinning and anti-inflammatory medication and surgeries. These surgeries can include:
- Bone transplant
- Joint/hip replacement
- Core decompression
Lower leg pain and upper leg pain may be the result of varicose veins.
To circulate blood from your legs back up to your heart, your veins use a series of valves to stop blood from pooling in your legs. Veins inside your legs have the support of muscle tissue to support them and stop veins from becoming varicose.
Superficial veins, on the other hand, do not have the support of muscle tissue and valves inside these blood vessels can fail over time, hence why varicose veins turn blue and twist on the surface of your skin. When varicose veins become inflamed or otherwise irritated, they can cause lower leg pain or leg pain in the thighs which feels heavy, throbbing or burning.
Fortunately, varicose veins are rarely a cause for serious concern. Treatment can consist of exercise, a low salt diet and in extreme cases surgery can be conducted to treat varicose veins.
How Serious is Leg Pain?
Leg pain could be caused by many medical issues and should be taken more seriously as you age.
Although, leg pain on its own or after an exercise isn’t likely to be life-threatening.
To treat general leg pain, remember the RICE acronym:
If your leg pain doesn’t subside, it may be time to schedule an appointment with a doctor to determine the cause. Give us a call or schedule an appointment online. We’re always taking new patients and are happy to look into any concerns about leg pain you may have.