Why do my legs ache and feel heavy?
Leg pain is a common complaint and there are many reasons why you may be experiencing this discomfort.
Injuries can cause intense leg pain, as well as the overuse of a muscle or tendon causing inflammation or cramps — but what are some other causes of leg pain if an injury is not to blame?
Other Causes of Leg Pain
Other causes of leg pain may be attributed to issues occurring within the vascular system such as:
- Peripheral artery disease (PAD)
- Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
- Nerve damage or peripheral neuropathy
- Varicose (enlarged) veins
- Poor circulation
Other pain causes can be rooted in the musculoskeletal system, which may include:
- Herniated disc
How do I get my legs to stop aching?
A doctor’s diagnosis will lead you to a treatment plan that is designed to help alleviate or cure the leg pain based on discovering the cause.
Here, we provide medical advice from doctors who want to help you find relief from leg pain.
Exercise is key
Dr. Aruna Pradhan, a cardiologist and assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, advises getting a doctor’s diagnosis as soon as possible if achiness in legs has you concerned.
If PAD (the narrowing of arteries in your legs) is the result of an evaluation, Dr. Pradhan says, “Doctors encourage people to do more physical activity to help keep them functional.”
Walking is one of the best exercises to promote healthy blood flow and to help prevent a blood clot from forming. Walking can also decrease other symptoms such as leg pain and muscle cramps.
If PAD is the cause of leg pain there are other lifestyle choices that are advised in addition to exercise that can increase overall health.
Cynthia Shortell, MD, head of vascular surgery at Duke Health recommends her patients quit smoking.
Among many health benefits of quitting smoking, increased blood flow to the legs can be experienced to decrease leg pain.
She also says that medication can help with painful symptoms. Talk to your doctor about over-the-counter options or prescription medications that are best suited for you.
Cleveland Clinic vascular surgeon George Anton, MD talks about achy legs associated with damaged veins.
“Most of the time, the first line of treatment is wearing compression stockings,” says Dr. Anton. This is one of the helpful medical products that may help to improve circulation and decrease blood pooling which can cause pain.
Pain Management Over Surgery
If the leg pain is dominantly in the knee area, it may be caused by a condition called osteoarthritis, a chronic health condition that is the result of inflammation in the joint.
This is more common in older adults, and a knee replacement may be a treatment option that is recommended.
Dr. Rebecca Breslow, a sports medicine doctor and an instructor in orthopedic surgery at Harvard Medical School advises,
“The goal in most cases is to avoid surgical intervention as long as possible.” Instead, leg pain management using nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications or cortisone shots can be used to relieve discomfort and swelling.
Take a Break
Feeling a sensation of pain is the body’s way of telling you something isn’t right. One of the best ways to help alleviate the pain is to give yourself and your leg muscles a rest for a few days to see if the pain subsides.
Orthopedic surgeon and Assistant Professor in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of Utah Dr. Ryan Spiker recommends, “First things first, taking a little bit of rest for a few days and if the symptoms aren’t severe often they’ll improve on their own.”
He further explains that “After resting, as long as they’re able, we encourage people to be up and walking and moving as early as possible, but minimizing lifting, twisting, bending. The physical function is a little bit less aggressive in those first few days.”
Get the Best Treatment for Your Leg Pain
At Vascular & Interventional Specialists of Prescott, we take leg pain seriously, offering many treatment options.
Our own Dr. Dicker says:
“We understand that visits to the doctor’s office can seem like a rushed and hurried experience.
At VISP we take the time to listen and discuss your symptoms to figure out the cause of your problem and devise a treatment plan that is safest and best for you.
We will make sure that your needs are addressed and your questions are answered.”
For more information call to schedule an appointment to get the best medical advice and find relief for your pain.
We would love to hear from you to know if this information was helpful for you, or if you have more questions we can answer.
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