When To See A Doctor About Lower Leg Pain Treatment
Lower leg pain isn’t just a nuisance; it can signify a severe underlying condition. The issue can significantly harm the quality of your life, making it difficult to walk or even stand.
Lower leg pain can have many causes, including vascular, musculoskeletal, and nerve problems. If you experience lower leg pain, see your doctor for a proper diagnosis and treatment.
Vascular is the medical term for blood vessels. When something goes wrong with your vascular system, it can cause problems like inflammation, blockages, and even blood clots. Some vascular causes of lower leg pain include the following.
Deep Vein Thrombosis
This condition can occur when blood clots form in a deep vein, like in your leg. Blood clots may cause pain and swelling of the affected leg. Deep-vein thrombosis is serious because the clot can loosen and travel to the lungs, resulting in pulmonary embolism.
Chronic Venous Inadequacy
Chronic venous inadequacy (CVI) happens when the vein valves don’t work correctly. This issue causes blood to pool in your veins, leading to pain, swelling, and even ulcers in the leg. CVI is a severe condition that can be difficult to treat.
Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD)
PAD is a condition that occurs when the arteries in your legs become narrowed or blocked. This condition can cause leg pain when you walk or exercise because the muscles aren’t getting enough blood. PAD is a serious condition that can lead to amputation if not treated.
Musculoskeletal leg pain develops when there is an issue with the leg's ligaments, tendons, bones, or muscles. Some common musculoskeletal causes of lower leg pain include the below.
Fibromyalgia is a condition that causes widespread pain and tenderness in the muscles, ligaments, and tendons. Fibromyalgia can also cause fatigue, sleep problems, and mood issues.
The reason fibromyalgia causes pain isn’t fully understood, but it relates to how the brain processes pain signals.
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease that occurs when the cartilage in your joints breaks down. The issue can cause pain, stiffness, and swelling of the joints.
Osteoarthritis is a common condition that often affects the knees, hips, and hands. The exact cause of osteoarthritis is unknown, but it depends on aging, genetics, and previous injuries.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that occurs when the body's immune system attacks the joints. This disease can cause pain, swelling, and stiffness in the joints. Rheumatoid arthritis is a severe condition that can lead to deformity and disability if not treated.
Stress fractures are tiny cracks in the bones that occur from repetitive stress or overuse. The most common site for stress fractures is the lower leg, particularly the shinbone (tibia).
Stress fractures can cause pain, swelling, and bruising in the area. You can treat stress fractures with rest, ice, and elevation. However, in some cases, surgery may be necessary.
Achilles tendonitis is an inflammation of the Achilles tendons, the large tendon connecting the heel bone and your calf muscle. It can cause pain and stiffness in the heel and lower leg.
Achilles tendonitis treatment depends on rest, ice, and physical therapy. In some cases, surgery may be necessary.
One of the most common causes of lower leg pain is muscle overuse. This pain can occur from participating in sports or other activities that put repetitive stress on the muscles and joints.
Muscle overuse can cause pain, swelling, and inflammation in the area. Treatment for muscle overuse often includes rest, ice, and physical therapy.
Neuropathy is damage to the nerves. The damage can cause pain, numbness, and tingling in the area. Two main types of neuropathies may cause lower leg pain as follows.
Peripheral neuropathy is a common type of neuropathy that affects the peripheral nerves. This neuropathy may result in pain, numbness, and tingling in the arms and legs.
Peripheral neuropathy results from diabetes or another underlying medical condition. Treatment for peripheral neuropathy often includes medication, physical therapy, and lifestyle changes.
Peroneal neuropathy is a type of neuropathy that affects the feet and legs. It can cause pain, numbness, and tingling in the area.
Peroneal neuropathy often occurs from an injury or another underlying medical condition. Treatment for peroneal neuropathy often includes medication, physical therapy, and lifestyle changes.
The major causes of neuropathies include:
Diabetes occurs when the body can’t properly regulate blood sugar levels. As a result, it can cause nerve damage and pain. You can treat diabetes with medication, diet, and lifestyle changes.
Vitamin B12 Deficiency
Vitamin B12 is a critical nutrient for nerve function. A vitamin B12 deficiency can cause nerve damage and pain. Treatment for a vitamin B12 deficiency often includes taking supplements or getting vitamin injections.
Alcoholism can cause nerve damage and pain. The pain primarily results from vitamin deficiency associated with wrong lifestyle choices. Alcoholism treatment often includes counseling, support groups, and medication.
Infections can cause nerve damage and pain. The conditions may be bacterial or viral, affecting any nerve in the body.
The ideal treatment for infection depends on the type of infection, but mostly it can go away with antibiotics or antiviral medications.
Tumors can damage nerves and cause pain. You can have a cancerous tumor or a benign tumor.
These growths can develop in any organ in the body, including the brain, spine, or limb. As a result, treatment for a tumor often includes surgery, radiation therapy, or chemotherapy.
Sciatica (Nerve Issue)
When the sciatica nerve becomes compressed or irritated, it can cause pain, numbness, and tingling in the lower leg. This issue comes with a sharp, shooting pain that radiates down the leg.
In some cases, the pain may be so severe that it limits your ability to walk or stand. Treatment for sciatica often includes rest, ice, and physical therapy. In some cases, surgery may be necessary.
Treatment For Lower Leg Pain
The best way to treat lower leg pain is to identify the underlying cause. Once the cause gets identified, tailoring the treatment to that specific condition becomes easy.
In many cases, lower leg pain’s remedy is self-care measures such as rest, ice, and over-the-counter medication.
When Should You See the Doctor
See your doctor if you have severe lower leg pain or persists for more than a few days. The pain could indicate a more severe condition that requires medical treatment.
For instance, if you can't bear weight on your leg or the pain is accompanied by swelling, redness, or fever, you should seek medical attention. These could be signs of a severe infection or blood clots. A doctor can order tests to diagnose the cause of your lower leg pain and recommend the appropriate treatment.
In the same way, if you have diabetes, high blood pressure, or another underlying medical condition, go to a doctor if you develop lower leg pain. These conditions can increase your risk of developing severe complications from lower leg pain.
Sometimes, lower leg pain could result from a bone fracture. It’s especially likely if you have recently experienced a fall or other trauma to your leg. You will need to see your doctor for treatment if you have a bone fracture.
Also, see your doctor if you can’t feel your leg on the affected side or if the pain comes with numbness. These could be signs of a nerve issue that requires medical treatment.