Most leg pain results from wear and tear, overuse, or injuries in joints or bones or in muscles, ligaments, tendons or other soft tissues. Some types of leg pain can be traced to problems in your lower spine. Leg pain can also be caused by blood clots, varicose veins or poor circulation.
Call for immediate medical help or go to the emergency room if you: -Have a leg injury with a deep cut or exposed bone or tendon -Are unable to walk or put weight on your leg -Have pain, swelling, redness or warmth in your calf -Hear a popping or grinding sound at the time of a leg injury
See your doctor as soon as possible if you have: -Signs of infection, such as redness, warmth or tenderness, or you have a fever greater than100 F (37.8 C) -A leg that is swollen, pale or unusually cool -Calf pain, particularly after prolonged sitting (such as a long car trip or plane ride) -Swelling in both legs along with breathing problems -Any serious leg symptoms that develop for no apparent reason
Schedule an office visit if: -You have pain during or after walking
-You have swelling in both legs -Your pain gets worse -Your symptoms don’t improve after a few days of home treatment
-You have painful varicose veins
Peripheral artery disease (also called peripheral arterial disease) is a common circulatory problem in which narrowed arteries reduce blood flow to your limbs.
When you develop peripheral artery disease (PAD), your extremities — usually your legs — don’t receive enough blood flow to keep up with demand.
Factors that increase your risk of developing peripheral artery disease include: -Smoking -Diabetes -Obesity (a body mass index over 30) -High blood pressure (140/90 millimeters of mercury or higher) -High cholesterol (total blood cholesterol over 240 milligrams per deciliter, or 6.2 millimoles per liter) -Increasing age, especially after reaching 50 years of age -A family history of peripheral artery disease, heart disease or stroke -High levels of homocysteine, a protein component that helps build and maintain tissue
People who smoke or have diabetes have the greatest risk of developing peripheral artery disease due to reduced blood flow.
Peripheral artery disease is often caused by atherosclerosis. In atherosclerosis, fatty deposits (plaques) build up in your artery walls and reduce blood flow. Although the heart is usually the focus of discussion of atherosclerosis, this disease can and usually does affect arteries throughout your body. When it occurs in the arteries supplying blood to your limbs, it causes peripheral artery disease.
Less commonly, the cause of peripheral artery disease may be blood vessel inflammation, injury to your limbs, unusual anatomy of your ligaments or muscles, or radiation exposure.
Many people can manage the symptoms of peripheral artery disease and stop the progression of the disease through lifestyle changes, especially quitting smoking.
To stabilize or improve PAD: Stop smoking. Smoking contributes to constriction and damage of your arteries and is a significant risk factor for the development and worsening of PAD. If you smoke, quitting is the most important thing you can do to reduce your risk of complications. If you’re having trouble quitting on your own, ask your doctor about smoking cessation options, including medications to help you quit. Exercise. This is a key component. Success in treatment of PAD is often measured by how far you can walk without pain. Proper exercise helps condition your muscles to use oxygen more efficiently. Your doctor can help you develop an appropriate exercise plan. He or she may refer you to a claudication exercise rehabilitation program. Eat a healthy diet. A heart-healthy diet low in saturated fat can help control your blood pressure and cholesterol levels, which contribute to atherosclerosis. Avoid certain cold medications. Over-the-counter cold remedies that contain pseudoephedrine (Advil Cold & Sinus, Aleve Sinus & Headache, Claritin-D, Sudafed, Tylenol Cold, Zyrtec-D, others) constrict your blood vessels and may increase your PAD symptoms.