Is your leg pain serious?
“The key [with leg pain] is the context,” said Casey Humbyrd, MD, chief of the foot and ankle division of orthopedics at Johns Hopkins University, in Baltimore. “If someone just got off a plane and says ‘My leg hurts,’ go to the hospital. We truly see a spike in deep vein thrombosis (DVT) during holiday travel season. Of course, many other kinds of leg pain are just signs of overuse and respond to ice and anti-inflammatory [pain medications].” (DVT occurs when there is a blood clot in a vein, often in the lower limbs.)
Only physicians can truly diagnose leg pain causes, though, so if home treatment doesn’t ease discomfort fairly quickly, seek medical advice.
If you have pain in the front of the leg or knee, this is often a sign of shin splints and is almost always related to overuse. That is especially true when people begin or rapidly increase exercise or activity. “You often hear people say ‘I just started walking [or running] and started out at about three miles a day,'” says Dr. Humbyrd. “Their bodies aren’t ready for that increase in activity. “Rest your legs, use ice to reduce swelling, and take anti-inflammatory painkillers,” she advises. Ensure splints don’t become stress fractures by maintaining appropriate vitamin D levels, says Dr. Humbyrd. Ask your physician to test your vitamin D levels and discuss how to best increase them if they are at low levels.