Pain is the body’s reaction to an injury or threat such as burning heat or a wound. The cause may be a physical injury, a disease, or it could simply be an emotional upset. Considered as a common complaint, leg pain is also a common symptom for a lot of different causes such as muscle spasms or cramps, injuries, dehydration, or the depletion of minerals like potassium, sodium, calcium, or magnesium. It can also be classified as inflammatory, orthopedic, neurological, and vascular.
Sometimes, we feel this terribly intense pain at the back of our leg while asleep. This is called a Charley horse or muscle spasm which is characterized by a tightening of leg muscles that seems like forming into a hard knot, making your leg difficult and painful to move. When a muscle is in spasm, it contracts involuntarily and does not relax.
When working out, always take a lot of liquids to avoid dehydration. Low levels of minerals and electrolytes in the body can also predispose a person to muscle spasms. Some spasms occur because the nerve that connects to a muscle is irritated. While tired, over-used or injured muscle is prone to spasms. Activities like swimming, running, and jumping can also trigger the condition.
When muscle spasms strike, stop your activity or whatever you are doing at once. Stretch and massage the affected muscle area. Both heat and ice are natural leg pain relief which can help relax the muscle and soothe the pain. Pain medications such as non-steroidal anti inflammatory drugs can reduce discomfort when muscles continue to be sore. In severe cases, consult your health care provider for anti-spasm medications.
Some helpful tips to prevent muscle spasms:
- Stretching and massage improves flexibility;
- Workouts and exercise programs should be within your capabilities;
- Take lots of fluids during exercise; and
- Eat fruits rich in potassium like bananas and oranges.
Another type of leg pain is Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) which is a neurological disorder that brings about a compulsory desire to move the limbs accompanied by a burning or tingling sensation as if there are insects crawling in the lower legs. Such sensations may vary depending on its severity, from uncomfortable to irritating to painful. Unfortunately, trying to relax would only activate the symptoms resulting to difficulty getting and maintaining sleep. This condition causes exhaustion and daytime fatigue when ignored.
Since research considers this condition as “idiopathic” which means that the cause is unknown, leg pain relief depends on identifying the associated or underlying medical conditions. Osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and fibromyalgia are sometimes associated with restless legs syndrome. Those who experience sleep disturbance will have to manage and modify their lifestyle such as minimizing if not totally avoiding alcohol or caffeine intake. Medications such as arthritis pain relief or skeletal muscle relaxant drugs may be administered to those with associated medical conditions like arthritis.
Tiredness or burning pain in the legs is caused by poor circulation and blockage of blood in the leg arteries. This pain is brought on by exercise, so getting enough rest is the best leg pain relief. Sometimes, limping occurs due to leg cramps. This is called claudication.
Narrowed or blocked arteries can occur anywhere in the body. Oftentimes, after a period of walking, the blockage occurs in the legs, most commonly in the calf or the foot. This is called intermittent claudication and is relieved by enough leg rest.
A healthy diet is as important as a daily program of walking for short periods, and stopping when there’s pain or cramps. Avoid wearing tight shoes to improve your condition. However, make sure to let your doctor check any non-healing wounds on the lower legs and feet. When leg pain does not go away, remains hot, red and swollen, seek medical help immediately.