Leg pain is one of those things that most people fail to pay attention to when they suffer. This is because the majority of leg pain cases are a result of shin splints, stress fracture, muscle strain, and other minor causes. In most cases, the leg pain disappears by itself or by simple home treatments.
But some leg pain could be as a result of serious health issues such as Deep Vein Thrombosis(DVT), Peripheral Artery Disease(PAD), and Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI) among others. These medical conditions are life-threatening and require keen medical attention.
How will you know when to ignore the leg pain or when to call Brisbane House Call Doctor? Below are the signs you should look out for to know if your leg pain is serious.
1. If You Have Recently Travelled in a Plane
If you have recently traveled on a plane and are experiencing leg pain, you need to be worried. Sitting in a plane for long hours combined with the dry air in the cabin increases your chances of getting DVT.
But what is DVT? This is a medical condition when you get a blood clot in a vein that is deep in your leg. The blood clot is a result of poor blood circulation due to prolonged inactivity. The problem with DVT is that a blood clot can dislodge from your leg to your lung and attach itself to the pulmonary artery. This will block your lungs and prevent it from functioning properly, a condition known as Pulmonary Embolism (PE).
Other factors that would put you at a high risk of getting DVT if you travel on a plane are:
- If you are over 50 years of age
- If you are obese
- If you have a genetic clotting disorder
- If you are taking contraceptives
- If you have a family history of DVT
- If you are a smoker
- If you are pregnant
2. If Your Legs are Cramping, Swollen or Discolored
Apart from traveling on a plane, there are several other causes of DVT. For instance, if your job involves standing or sitting for long hours, or have been admitted in the hospital for a long period, you are at a high risk of getting DVT. Anything that involves less movement can prevent your blood from flowing normally consequently causing DVT. Also, some injuries in your blood vessels can result in blood clotting.
If you have not been on a plane, you can look out for symptoms like swelling on your ankle or foot on one of your legs and cramping pain spreading through your leg from the calf. Also, if you have areas which are pale, bluish, or reddish on your leg, you may have DVT.
3. If You Have Diabetes
For diabetics, leg pain could mean that you have had a prolonged high blood sugar level. As a result, this destroys your nerves, a condition known as diabetic neuropathy. If not treated, diabetic neuropathy can cause digestive problems and urinary tract infections. Severe diabetic neuropathy can cause serious infections which can lead to amputation.
Another condition that can cause leg pain for diabetic patients especially those over 50 years of age is PAD. PAD is caused by atherosclerosis which refers to the build-up of fats and cholesterol inside and outside of your artery walls. Prolonged atherosclerosis in your legs makes the arteries narrow preventing blood from supplying enough oxygen to your tissues, muscles, and organs. Major symptoms of PAD are leg pain while walking or exercising as well as cramping and feeling weak during these activities.
4. If You feel Pain Walking
If you are having difficulty walking due to leg pain, you have a reason to be worried. Apart from diabetic neuropathy and PAD, leg pain can also be caused by a condition known as CVI. CVI is a condition caused by poor blood circulation from the organs, tissues, and muscles back to the heart and lungs. This causes the blood to pool thus creating pressure in your blood vessels. As a result, you may see discoloration on your legs, your feet may swell and you may experience fatigue and discomfort while walking.
Again, you are at a high risk of getting CVI if you are obese, over 50 years of age, have to work sitting or standing for long hours, pregnant, a smoker, or live a life with very little activity. Also if you have a family history of varicose veins, you can easily get CVI.
Although leg pain is a common problem and is in most cases not serious, it is clear that some leg pains are life-threatening and can cause permanent disability. As such, ensure that you visit a doctor to rule out the possibility of a serious medical condition especially if the leg pain persists.