What are the different causes of leg pain?
Leg pain can occur as a result of conditions that affect the bones, joints, muscles, tendons, ligaments, blood vessels, nerves, or skin of the leg.
Some common causes of leg pain include:
- Peripheral artery disease: Inadequate blood supply to the leg is the main reason for peripheral artery disease. You may have numbness, weakness, or cramps in the leg when you attempt to walk. Painkillers and medicines that increase the blood flow to legs can relieve the pain, but surgery may be recommended in some cases.
- Deep vein thrombosis (DVT): A blood clot in the lower limb vein is called DVT. It may be manifested by redness, pain, swelling, and warmth in the legs. Clots may burst and travel to the lungs causing a pulmonary embolism, which can be life-threatening. The physician might prescribe blood thinners to prevent clot formation.
- Peripheral neuropathy: It is a condition where the nerves that are connected to the blood vessel and muscles are damaged. Diabetes, certain health conditions, medicines, injuries, and infections can contribute to peripheral neuropathy. It can cause tingliness, numbness and weakness, and stabbing pain in the legs.
- Electrolyte imbalance: Excessive loss of electrolytes such as sodium, potassium, and calcium may cause cramps, weakness, or numbness in the legs. Taking electrolyte-rich drinks may help to restore the lost electrolytes.
- Spinal stenosis: The spaces on the inner side of the bone of the spinal cord narrow, putting pressure on the nerves of that area leading to tingliness, numbness, or weakness in the legs. Abnormal walking patterns may also be seen, which can be eased with medication.
- Sciatica: The nerves in the lower spine get pinched, causing leg pain that can range from bad cramps to a strong shooting pain that makes it difficult to stand or sit. The physician may prescribe painkillers or physical therapy. Surgery may be reserved for a more serious case.
- Arthritis: It is the most common condition affecting the joints, leading to pain, stiffness, and swelling. Arthritis can restrain your everyday activities when affecting the hips, knees, or ankles. Painkillers are the first-line treatment for arthritis.
- Pulled muscle: Intense leg pain occurs when the muscle gets stretched extensively. Applying cold-packs for 20 minutes a day, wrapping it with a bandage, or taking painkillers can relieve the ache.
- Sprain: Stretching or tearing of the ligament can cause a sprain, leading to swelling and pain. Resting, applying ice, compression, and elevation can ease the swelling and pain.
- Muscle cramp: Tightening of the muscle in the calf leads to muscle cramps, which is manifested by sharp pain and the feeling of a hard lump of muscle under the skin. They usually do not require any treatment and go away on their own.
- Stress fracture: Overuse of muscles around the shinbone can cause a stress fracture, which may not go away with splints. Resting for six to eight weeks is the best way to heal the bones completely.
- Tendinitis: It is the inflammation of the tendon that attaches the muscle to bone, causing severe pain and swelling. Resting, applying ice, compression, and elevation can ease the swelling and pain.
- Varicose veins: In this condition, the veins need to work extra hard to get blood back to the heart making them look bulgy and twisted. Being overweight or pregnant may cause varicose veins, which can be relieved by exercising or wearing compression stockings.
Some other causes of leg pain include medications (diuretics and statins) and bone tumors.
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Common Medical Abbreviations & Terms
Doctors, pharmacists, and other health-care professionals use abbreviations, acronyms, and other terminology for instructions and information in regard to a patient's health condition, prescription drugs they are to take, or medical procedures that have been ordered. There is no approved this list of common medical abbreviations, acronyms, and terminology used by doctors and other health- care professionals. You can use this list of medical abbreviations and acronyms written by our doctors the next time you can't understand what is on your prescription package, blood test results, or medical procedure orders. Examples include:
- ANED: Alive no evidence of disease. The patient arrived in the ER alive with no evidence of disease.
- ARF: Acute renal (kidney) failure
- cap: Capsule.
- CPAP: Continuous positive airway pressure. A treatment for sleep apnea.
- DJD: Degenerative joint disease. Another term for osteoarthritis.
- DM: Diabetes mellitus. Type 1 and type 2 diabetes
- HA: Headache
- IBD: Inflammatory bowel disease. A name for two disorders of the gastrointestinal (BI) tract, Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis
- JT: Joint
- N/V: Nausea or vomiting.
- p.o.: By mouth. From the Latin terminology per os.
- q.i.d.: Four times daily. As in taking a medicine four times daily.
- RA: Rheumatoid arthritis
- SOB: Shortness of breath.
- T: Temperature. Temperature is recorded as part of the physical examination. It is one of the "vital signs."
ketorolacKetorolac is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) used for short-term acute pain relief that requires opioid level of pain relief (analgesia). Ketorolac is not used for treating minor or chronic pain. Serious side effects include gastrointestinal bleeding, gastrointestinal perforation, congestive heart failure, heart attack (myocardial infarction), liver failure, kidney failure, and coma (rare). Common side effects include headache, increase in liver enzymes, gastrointestinal symptoms, and others. Consult your doctor before taking ketorolac if pregnant or breastfeeding.
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Leg PictureIn popular usage, the leg extends from the top of the thigh down to the foot. See a picture of the Leg and learn more about the health topic.
What Is the Most Common Treatment for Chronic Pain?Chronic pain is long-lasting and persistent and lasts for months or years. The most common treatments for chronic pain are NSAIDs, acetaminophen, COX-2 inhibitors, antidepressants and anti-seizure medicines, and opioids.