Leg pain can be sharp, dull, numbing, tingling, burning, or aching. It can also be acute (meaning sudden and short-term) or chronic and persistent.
There are various reasons for leg pain, including overuse, injury, sedentary lifestyle, hip or back injury, and nerve or muscle inflammation. Injury sustained from accidents or sports game often presents as acute pain. Often this can be relieved with the RICE technique (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation). Chronic leg pain can be as a result of osteoarthritis or even sciatica. Different causes of leg pain can have similar symptoms so a correct diagnosis is essential for your physiotherapist to determine your treatment options.
How is leg pain diagnosed?
A physiotherapist may ask you the following questions relating to your pain:
- Where exactly is the pain located?
- Is the pain in one or both legs?
- Do you get pins and needles in your legs or feet?
- It the pain dull or sharp?
- Is it painful only when walking or at resting times too?
- What makes the pain worse and what makes it feel better?
- Do you wear orthotics in your shoes?
- Have you had any back, knee, or hip issues?
- How does it affect your day to day life?
- How far can you walk before it hurts?
- Does your leg give way at all when you walk?
After a physical examination, your physiotherapist will determine a treatment plan. If your leg pain does not subside within a few weeks, they may refer you for an X-ray or MRI scan to assist with diagnosis and treatment strategy.
Possible causes of leg pain:
- Muscle cramp
- Muscle sprain e.g. of the gastrocnemius or soleus muscle
- Shin splints
- Fractures of the tibia or fibula
- Blood clots
- Varicose veins
- Hamstring injury
- Osteoarthritis of the knee or ankle referring pain
- Referred pain from the spine e.g. sciatica
- Cancer: rare
How to treat leg pain
Suggestions for treatment include:
- Ice and heat therapy
- Rest and activity modification
- Elevate your leg as much as possible
- Pain medication
- Warm bath and stretch out
How we can help your leg pain
We will do whatever we can to get you on the fastest route to recovery. Some of the treatment methods we use include:
- Strengthening exercises
- Myofascial trigger point release
- Cross-friction massage
- Stretching and range of movement exercises
- Functional exercises