Whether you’re a runner, weightlifter, cyclist or simply spend a lot of time on your feet, experiencing some sort of leg pain is
normal. A sign of a tough workout or a long day at work. But when does this pain cross into concerning territory? It’s difficult to
gauge, especially if you’re still able to stay on your feet. But, as experts in Podiatry, we often see many clients that have
left it too late to take action. Potentially causing long term damage which takes months of treatment to address. So today, we wanted to
cover all of the different types, causes and treatments of leg
Helping you to prevent, recognise early signs and know when to get in touch with a professional.
Is your leg pain something to worry about?
As we said before, it’s really tough to know if your leg pain is something to worry about. Especially if you currently still have
mobility, are constantly on your feet or your symptoms have crept up on you. Ultimately, leg pain, if muscular or delayed onset muscle
soreness (when your legs have been subjected to a novel stimulus e.g. a new exercise or increased weight) should fade within a matter of
days. Your legs might feel a little heavy or sore but they shouldn’t actually hurt to walk on. This is natural when your legs are
recovering from a tough workout or day at work. However, if you experience any of the following, then take note:
- Constant pain: the pain in your leg is unrelenting, even with sustained rest
Intermittent: your pain subsides when you’re not using your legs but whenever you move into positions that triggered
the pain, it comes back.
Recurrent: you can go for weeks or months without pain in a specific part of your leg but it keeps coming back in exactly
the same place.
Acute: you hear a snap, pop or that something just doesn’t feel right. It might not feel painful at the time but you
feel the pain increasing over time.
Finding the source of your pain
Now you’ve worked out that your legs are in pain rather than just tired, it’s time to explore what the source of your pain is.
This essentially rests on where you’re feeling the pain in your legs and the type of pain you’re experiencing. Below are some
different sources of leg pain which are often tied to a specific area of the leg:
Back of legs up to the lower back. This could be caused by sciatica
and tends to be a constant pain which can make sitting or standing for too long difficult.
Around the ankle and lower leg. This could be caused by a
which is often caused by wear and tear. A pain that gradually gets worse over time.
Around the knee or ankle. This could be caused by bursitis which
occurs when a joint is overused or is put through repetitive movement patterns. Alternatively, knee pain could also be caused patella or
quadriceps tendinopathy - tissue damage often caused by overuse.
Front lower leg. Shin splints initially
may feel sore or tender and develop into a dull ache which increases when running or the leg moves through high-intensity movements.
Outer thigh. This is most likely iliotibial band syndrome. Characterised by pain around the outside of the knee that
increases with repeated use.
Working through leg pain with a professional
It’s tempting just to continue using your leg. However, with no accurate diagnosis and treatment plan, your leg pain is a ticking
clock - waiting for a stimulus for further injury. At The Feet People, we will run you through a variety of tests to accurately diagnose the
pain and give you a treatment plan to not only ease your pain but prevent any further injuries.
Your treatment plan will of course depend on the type of leg pain you’re experiencing. However, there are some common treatment
protocols that you can expect to cover including:
- RICE. Rest, ice, compression and elevations (apart from sciatica which is an ongoing condition)
Strengthening and/or stretching. Targeting the muscles affected and those involved in their core movement mechanisms.
Dry needling To stimulate cell regeneration
and encourage quicker healing rates.
- An adapted or modified training program - slowly introducing you back to the forms of exercise that you love safely.
Foot and/or ankle supports. Allowing
the surrounding muscles the opportunity to strengthen without the potential risk of further injury.
non-invasive treatment that uses high-energy acoustic waves to engage your body's healing and repair response.
Orthotics and footwear: to provide a stable foundation for the feet to function. Together they help support the foot and
leg to help the body absorb ground reactive forces better to allow the injuries to heal without added strain.
Activity or Load management: your expert will provide clarity on what exercises you can still do to ensure health and well
being but not causing further damage.
Foot mobilisation therapy: this assists the foot like orthotics and footwear but for times when you're barefoot.
Strapping: short term treatment for injuries that are both acute and chronic in nature. Improves proprioception and also
works like orthotics.
And finally, prevention
The final piece of the puzzle is prevention. During and after your recovery your podiatrist should give you tips on how to prevent your
injury from becoming recurrent. Again, the advice will differ dependent on the type and severity of your leg pain, however, some of the
advice may include:
- Stretching and mobility exercises around and of the injured area.
- Strengthening exercises to support the injured area and prevent compensation of other muscles.
- Proper fitting and supportive footwear.
- Improvement of standing or sitting posture.
- Advice and guidance on exercise techniques.
We hope this blog has been helpful in getting to know whether you should be worried about your leg pain. And, if you do think you would
benefit from seeing a professional why not book in for a session