Leg pain can occur anywhere between the pelvis and the heels. There are different reasons why the leg may hurt and there is a possibility that the pain is caused by a problem in the spinal cord. Pain the leg can be acute or chronic and it can also be intermittent or slowly progressive depending on the cause. One of the most common conditions that can cause leg pain is varicose veins, a condition that usually affects more women than men and about 3 in 10 adults. Leg pains can be caused by something as simple as a muscle cramp but it can also be something more serious like a deep vein thrombosis.
Varicose veins are twisted and swollen veins that can cause pain. The valves in the vein normally allow blood to move toward the heart but in individuals with varicose veins, the valves are not functioning properly and cause the blood to pool in the veins, leading to vein enlargement. Varicose veins are commonly found in the legs but it may also occur in other areas of the body.
Varicose veins are more common in women than in men. 3 out of 10 adults usually develop varicose veins and can be caused by prolonged standing and increased abdominal pressure (such as in pregnancy). Varicose veins can also be caused by congenitally defective valves or valves in the veins that are defective since birth.
Symptoms of Varicose Veins
Varicose veins symptoms include enlarged veins which are clearly visible to the eye, heaviness or fullness in the legs, aching or pain in the legs, swelling of the ankles and brown discoloration of the ankles. In severe cases of varicose veins, ulcers may develop near the ankle. Varicose veins tend to get worse over time and can lead to rupture of the vein, leg ulcer formation and phlebitis, a condition wherein there is chronic swelling of the vein.
Treatment for Varicose Veins
Varicose veins treatment usually involves the use of support hose, raising the legs when sleeping or resting and avoiding prolonged standing. If there are symptoms such as leg pain and skin ulcers, it may be necessary to undergo surgery or noninvasive treatments for varicose veins. Some of the options for varicose veins treatment include vein stripping, sclerotherapy, and endovenous thermal ablation. Vein stripping is a surgical procedure that involves removal of the varicose veins in the legs. Sclerotherapy involves the use of medication which is injected into the vein, causing it to shrink while endovenous thermal ablation makes use of a laser fiber that is inserted into the vein and also causes the veins to shrink and disappear.
DEEP VEIN THROMBOSIS
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) involves blood clot formation in a vein deep in the body. It commonly affects the large veins in the lower part of the legs and thighs. The blood clot causes obstruction of blood flow, leading to swelling and pain in the leg. One of the major risks associated with DVT is the possibility of embolism wherein the clot detaches and moves through the bloodstream. This embolism can get stuck in the organs in the body such as the lungs, heart, and brain, causing severe damage.
Symptoms of deep vein thrombosis include redness and warmth in the affected leg, leg pain, leg tenderness, and swelling of the affected leg. The doctor will usually prescribe anticoagulants to an individual with DVT. Anticoagulants cannot dissolve existing clots but it will help prevent additional clot formation and stop present blood clots from getting larger. In case medications don’t work, it may be necessary to undergo surgical treatment. Surgical treatment can include removal of the blood clot from the vein and placing a filter in the largest vein of the body to stop the blood clot from traveling to the lungs.
Leg pain is caused by several conditions and it is important to have it promptly diagnosed by a medical professional to avoid complications from developing. Some conditions that cause leg pain can be relieved with non-medical and non-surgical interventions but some require serious medical attention.