Leg pain can be intermittent or constant. It can start gradually or suddenly. The pain can range from mild achiness, to severe and unrelenting shooting pain. There are traumatic causes of pain from injury, but also several different diseases that can cause significant leg pain, numbness or swelling.
There are many, many potential causes of leg pain.
- Chondromalacia patella. Degenerative changes cause soft spots or wear-and-tear changes to underside of knee cap (patella).
- Degenerative Disc Disease. Thinning of spinal discs often causes pressure on nerve roots exiting the lumbar spine, which can cause radiating leg pain that can travel all the way to the foot.
- Fibromyalgia. A pain amplification syndrome that affects the processing of pain in the central nervous system and may commonly manifest with pain tender points in the inner legs and gluteal area as well as many points in the upper body.
- Knee Bursitis. Swelling of fluid filled sacs around the knee joint can cause significant pain.
- Herniated Disc. Bulging, herniation or sequestration of the gel-like center of the spinal disc can apply pressure to nerve roots or the spinal cord and cause significant radiating nerve pain in either or both legs.
- Osteoarthritis. Wear-and-tear of cartilage in the foot, knee, or hip joints can cause arthritic type pain in these areas.
- Peripheral Neuropathy. Damage to the nerves in the leg from injury or systemic disease can cause pain, numbness, loss of balance, and weakness in the legs. The pain is often described like walking on pins. Symptoms can also feel like a sock is always on the foot reducing sensation.
- Sciatica. Branches of several nerve roots exiting the lower spine combine to form the large sciatic nerve that travels from the lumbar spine all the way to the foot of each leg. Irritation of this nerve can cause numbness, cramping, pins and needles, shooting pain, and muscle weakness in the leg.
- Spinal Stenosis. A narrowing of the canals within the spine where nerve tissue travels – either the spinal cord or the nerves that branch off the spinal cord at every level of the spine.
Treatment for leg pain will vary considerably depending upon diagnosis, but may include any of the following:
- Therapy. Chiropractic or Physical Therapy is often recommended for various types of leg pain issues, particularly to help with regaining proper balance, gait, strength and stability. Orthotics, bracing, taping, exercises, muscle stimulation, low level laser, joint or spinal manipulation or other various treatments may be required.
- Pharmacological Intervention. Various types of NSAID’s, nerve pain medications, muscle relaxants or opiate pain medications may be utilized in concert with interventional procedures and/or conservative therapy to help control many pain syndromes.
- Corticosteroid Injection. An injection of an anti-inflammatory medication into or around a painful joint, bursa, nerve, tendon or muscle can often dramatically diminish swelling and pain in that area.
- Epidural Steroid Injection. An injection of an anti-inflammatory medication around a painful nerve root or spinal disc via the epidural space overlaying the spine can rapidly diminish radiating pain in the leg from sciatica, degenerative disc disease, disc herniation, osteoarthritis of the spine and various other pain types.
- Spinal Cord Stimulators.Radiating leg pain that has failed to resolve from surgical intervention or uncontrollable peripheral neuropathy pain in the feet or legs may be conditions treatable by a newer type of technology called neuromodulation. A spinal cord stimulator is utilized to block the reception of leg pain and/or back pain by bombarding the spinal cord with small amounts of electrical current through thin wire leads that are placed into the epidural space overlying the spine. The effects is to replace excruciating leg and/or back pain with pleasant vibration sensations.