When your leg hurts, the source of the pain can be a mystery. With so many bones, ligaments, tendons, muscles and other tissue in your legs, the cause of the pain can sometimes be tough to determine.
Do your legs feel stiff and weak when you try to stand after sitting for an extended period? Do you feel an occasional sharp pain in your calf or an ache in your thigh when you walk? Do your knees pop when you climb stairs? Do you cramp up easily? Do you sometimes feel a numb, tingling sensation running down your hips into your upper legs? Does your leg pain begin in one area and move to another, or is it fairly localized?
Answering these questions is the beginning of treating your specific leg pain and getting you back on your feet again, pain free. It is also important to consider these factors:
- The location of the pain — is it in your upper leg, lower leg or in the knee joint? Front or back?
- The type of pain — is it sharp, dull, buzzing, and are there other symptoms like numbness or tingling?
- The onset of the pain — did you notice your leg pain all at once, or was it gradual?
- The duration of the pain — does it come and go, or is it chronic?
What’s Causing My Leg Pain?
In addition to injuries to bones, muscles, ligaments or joints, leg pain can be caused by a variety of things. Let’s take a brief look at several common causes of leg pain.
- Arthritis — Degenerative pain, may be linked to injury, wear and tear, disease or autoimmune issues.
- Baker’s Cyst — A cyst that causes bulging or tightness behind the knee.
- Bursitis — When the bursa, fluid-filled sacs that cushion bones, tendons and muscles in the joint become inflamed.
- Gout — Sudden, sometimes severe pain or tenderness in the joints, often in the feet.
- Muscle Cramps — Sudden, tight and intense pain in or near a muscle. Often caused by fatigue or dehydration.
- Osteoarthritis — Progressive, degenerative condition that causes stiffness, pain, weakness and tenderness in the joints. Especially common in the knee.
- Paget’s Disease — Bone disease that can cause fragile, misshapen bones. Risk increases with age.
- Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) — Narrowing of blood vessels that leads to poor circulation in the legs.
- Shin Splints — Sharp pain and/or dull ache in the front part of the calf muscle. Caused by inflamed tissue along the edge of the Tibia (shinbone).
- Tendonitis — Discomfort caused by tendon swelling, stretching or tearing.
- Varicose Veins — Enlarged veins, often in the legs. May be only cosmetic, but may also cause pain.
Causes of Leg Pain Not Located in the Legs
Sometimes, leg pain does not originate in any part of the leg. Because our legs are connected to the rest of our body through a complex system of bones, muscles, connective tissue and nerves, a condition affecting our core can often be felt in our limbs. Some examples of spine-related conditions with symptoms that include leg pain are:
- Complex Regional Pain Syndrome — Chronic pain that usually develops after an injury, stroke, heart attack or surgery.
- Degenerative Disc Disease — Deterioration of the discs that act as shock absorbers in our spine.
- Herniated Disc Disease — When spinal discs rupture, allowing the internal fluid to leak out, compressing the vertebrae.
- Pinched Nerve — Also known as Radiculopathy, when a nerve is constricted by surrounding tissue.
- Sacroiliitis — Inflammation of the sacroiliac joints at the junction of the spine and pelvis.
- Sciatica — Caused by another spinal condition, Sciatica symptoms include pain in the buttock or leg, weakness, difficulty standing or walking.
- Spinal Stenosis — Narrowing of the spinal canal that puts pressure on the spinal cord and nerve roots in the spine.
While none of these conditions originate in the legs, all of these conditions can manifest as leg pain. Knowing where the pain is can help Dr. Skaliy determine which condition may be causing your leg pain.
Diagnosing and Treating Leg Pain
Treatment of your leg pain will depend on the condition causing the pain, as well as the location and severity of the pain.
During your initial physical examination, Dr. Skaliy will ask many of the same questions included in this article, as well as questions about your personal and family medical history. Having these answers ready will help Dr. Skaliy better assess the cause of your leg pain and develop an effective treatment plan. Diagnostics may also include medical imaging like MRIs, X-rays, or CT scans.
Different conditions that cause knee pain require specific treatments. Click on any of the links below to learn more.
While certain conditions that cause leg pain are sometimes treated with surgery, Dr. Skaliy recommends several different minimally-invasive and/or non-surgical options for treating many different conditions that include leg pain. Click on the links below to learn more.
- Epidural Steroid Injections — A mixture of anti-inflammatory corticosteroid and anesthetic is injected into the painful area for temporary pain relief.
- Platelet Rich Plasma — Concentrated blood platelets, donated by the patient receiving care, are used to activate and enhance the body’s own healing ability.
- Stem Cell Therapy — This minimally-invasive treatment promotes real healing and regeneration, especially in joints affected by Osteoarthritis, but it also effective against up to 65 other medical conditions.
- Spinal Cord Stimulation — Minimally-invasive procedure offering relief to patients experiencing chronic pain.
- Vertiflex — FDA-approved “Band-Aid” surgery to treat Spinal Stenosis. A small implant is used to release pressure and relieve pain.
To learn what is causing your leg pain as well as what the best treatment program for you may be, click here to make an appointment with Dr. Skaliy, or fill out the form below.