Leg pain is a common symptom following accidents or trauma but it can also signify many different diseases.
Depending on the cause, leg pain is a common cause of disability and sick days from work. It affects men and women, young or old. It is usually mild but can be severe and debilitating. It can start suddenly or slowly. It can be felt it in a small area of the leg or over a wide area and even affect the whole leg. It can last days or years, and can sometimes be hard to treat.
Leg pain is often short-term or acute, and lasts a few days to a few weeks. It usually improves on its own with self-care. It is called subacute leg pain if it lasts between 4 and 12 weeks.
Chronic leg pain, on the other hand, lasts for 3 months or longer, even after the initial injury or underlying cause of pain has been treated. Chronic leg pain can occur in a small percentage of people that get acute leg pain. This means that the pain can continue for much longer than expected and in some of those cases the chronic lower leg pain can be difficult to treat.
Symptoms Of Legs Pain
There are many causes of leg pain which can occur suddenly or slowly. Leg pain can also occur immediately after an injury or the onset of symptoms can be delayed.
Symptoms can include a sharp or dull pain. There might be burning, aching, tingling, numbness, pins and needles, or weakness. Leg pain commonly occurs with pain higher up in the buttock, lower back or spine, and down into the foot.
Severity can be anywhere from 1 to 10, or from mild to severe.
Sometimes people can be very unwell if there is a more serious cause like an infection or fracture. If it is associated with peripheral neuropathy or vascular disease there may be changes in colour of the leg, feet with or without ulcers and slow healing wounds.
If there is an infection, the area could also be red, swollen and warm.
Who Gets Legs Pain?
Although anyone can get leg pain some people are more likely to develop it. Here are a few risk factors that might make the development of leg pain more likely:
- Older age people tend to have more spinal problem or other diseases like diabetes, which can cause or contribute to leg pain.
- Lack of exercise and low fitness level
- Excessive physical activities like running can predispose to lleg muscle problems and shin splints
- Being overweight
- Certain jobs or activities that require heavy lifting, pushing or pulling, particularly when it involves twisting or vibrating the spine can cause spinal pain which inturn can cause leg pain. An inactive job like a desk job may also contribute to leg pain especially with a poor posture or a chair without adequate back support.
- Poor circulation
- Long flights can predispose people to developing deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
- Direct injury or trauma to the leg can predispose to dangerous conditions like compartment syndrome.