Leg pain is a broad category of pain that can occur anywhere in the upper or lower leg. It can range in intensity from a dull ache to a sharp, stabbing pain. There are multiple causes of leg pain and some can be very serious. Others can be controlled or cured with rest and at-home care, especially proactive treatments that then help prevent leg pain in the future. Acute leg pain will go away after treatment but if pain does not stop after 3 months, it is considered chronic and may require different treatments to alleviate.
Leg pain can be caused by an injury or an illness. There are also several degenerative or “wear and tear” conditions that can lead to pain in the legs.
Hip pain, for example, can be caused by a break caused by osteoporosis or conditions such as osteoarthritis or bursitis. Hip pain is also more common in elderly patients but can be seen in individuals of any age. The treatment for these conditions will be different based on the source of the pain and the age of the patient.
Other conditions that cause leg pain are:
- Achilles tendinitis
- Extruded discs
- Hip bursitis
- Knee osteoarthritis
- Piriformis syndrome
- Sports injuries
Symptoms of leg pain will be related to the source or general cause of the pain.
Leg pain usually generates from 3 systems in the human body: the musculoskeletal system, the nervous system, or the circulatory system. Musculoskeletal leg pain occurs in the muscles, ligaments, tendons, and bones in the leg. Pain originating in the nervous system will usually cause sharp, radiating pain down the sciatic nerve resulting in a condition referred to as sciatica. Circulatory system pain in the leg can feel similar to a condition that affects the musculoskeletal system but is often more typically felt in only 1 side of the body.
Because leg pain is common and varied, there are several things you can do to prevent leg pain in your life.
Balanced nutrition is essential to maintain healthy body systems throughout our lives. Particularly, doctors recommend foods that maintain a good balance of potassium for healthy legs. Both high and low levels of potassium can be dangerous. Also, the correct amount of calcium and magnesium can help prevent leg pain and degenerative conditions that affect the hips and knees, such as osteoarthritis or osteoporosis. However, always talk to your doctor or a nutritionist before changing your diet too drastically.
Many sports injuries such as strains and sprains can be prevented with the correct pre-game or workout stretching routine. Add some easy leg stretching routines before you exercise every day to prevent leg pain. Stretching can not only helps prevent injury but it can also help rehabilitate your legs after you’ve suffered from a sports injury. Standing quadriceps flexes, hips flexor stretches, and calf stretches can help before any exercise routine.
Another key to prevent leg pain is to keep your activity low impact. In fact, the aerobics craze of the 1980s actually led to permanent, lifelong injuries for some of the individuals who embraced the culture. The good news is that low-impact exercise is easy to do and most of the time doesn’t require any additional accessories, except for the proper footwear. Walking is the easiest way to start a low-impact exercise routine. If you’ve not exercised much before, start slow with an easy walk around your block and add time and distance as you begin to build more stamina and get more comfortable with the activity.
Most people don’t realize how dehydration can affect our systems. By the time you feel thirsty your body is already experiencing dehydration. Muscle cramps are often caused by a lack of hydration. Individuals can forget to stay hydrated while engaging in physical activity. It may be easy to remember your water bottle when you’re hiking, but do you think about it when you’re working in your yard?
Get a massage
While frequent massages may seem self-indulgent they can really help keep your body balanced and restored. A massage greatly helps sore muscles, increases circulation, and makes you feel more relaxed. A trained massage therapist can work with you to pay certain attention to parts of your legs where you may be experiencing minor discomfort. It can also be a great way to treat yourself once in a while.
This Eastern meditative practice has become very popular in the United States. Yoga can help you maintain mind and body balance, but it is also a great low-impact stretching workout for the muscles in your legs and throughout your body. Poses such as chair, warrior pose, warrior II pose, and the standing forward bend are all great for leg strength. As a bonus, you can also use yoga poses for your pre-exercise stretching routine.
Take a hike
Does a daily walk around your neighborhood sound boring and repetitive to you? Hiking can be a great way to add more scenic walking to your routine. Depending on where you live, you can hike in river valleys, mountains, or the woods. You could even join a hiking group to make it a more social activity. Always remember to stay safe on the trail, bring plenty of water, and wear appropriate hiking boots that fit well.
Another low-impact activity that can help prevent leg pain and provide a little more excitement than a regular walk is golf. By skipping the motorized golf cart you get your walking exercise in as you go from hole to hole and the correct swing technique also stretches the muscles in your legs. Like hiking, golf is also a great group activity.
For an easy way to add leg pain preventing activity into your everyday life, take the stairs. You can do this at home from your basement to your second story while you’re doing laundry or other household tasks. If you go into an office building and need to be on the 4th floor, take the stairs instead of the elevator.
Talk to your doctor
Your doctor can help you with any questions you have about your body. While we often turn to them only after there is a concern or a problem, doctors really do have a desire to proactively help prevent injuries and illnesses in their patients. If you want to know more about ways to prevent leg pain in your life, your doctor is a great resource.
Leg pain doesn’t have to change your life. If you’re concerned about leg pain in your future, use some of these methods to begin preventing the condition now or help ease any pain you already feel.
What daily activities to prevent leg pain work for you?
Image by liebeslakritze via Flickr