Leg pain: common causes and treatment solutions

Jan 06, 2020
This could be the answer to your leg pain. Source: Getty

Have you been experiencing discomfort in your legs and don’t know what’s causing it? Leg pain is one of the most misunderstood ailments, because finding the cause is often hard to pin-point.

Common causes

There’s plenty going on in the legs, and pain can emerge from our muscles, joints, ligaments and tendons. For example, an inflamed Achilles tendon may be incredibly persistent and be felt right up the leg.

Leg pain may also arise due to strain, injury, osteoarthritis or simply overuse. Problems from overuse might include cramps or inflammation, which will take time to settle down.

Flat footedness, incorrect footwear, incorrect training loads and lower limb biomechanics can also cause lower leg problems. And then there’s trauma, which may occur from an accident or fall, or include a sports injury such as torn muscles or fractures.

Some people think they have leg pain due to the following:

  • Muscle weakness: Our glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings and calves are anti-gravity muscles, always working to help us walk, stand and be upright — it’s understandable that we may suspect weakness in these muscles as a probable cause
  • Flexibility: For example, feeling tight in the hamstrings or calf
  • Balance: We see people who have rolled their ankle multiple times, twisted their knee or experienced the knee giving way, which suggests balance could be an issue.

When people get injured, the above will be addressed, but this may not get to the heart of the problem.

Next, people tend to work on their core, suspecting their lower leg pain is caused by a weak core. They will do yoga or Pilates to strengthen their core, which are worthwhile exercises with real benefits, but working on your core does not guarantee your leg pain will be solved.

So, what are some real solutions to leg pain? 

There are some crucial areas to work on, including:

  • Back: It might sound weird, but leg pain is often caused by a stiff lower or even upper back
  • Shoulders: Knee pain can originate from biomechanical issues in the shoulders, making the shoulders a surprising, yet common cause of leg issues
  • Neural tightness: Neural structures network through our bodies to improve information to our brain. If these structures are tight the brain can become protective, causing pain, pins and needles, tightness, numbness and heaviness in the legs. The brain is very smart, but with proper treatment you can work through this issue.

If your leg pain is caused from an accident then the above areas should be included in the rehab for the best results.

Finally, our instinct is often to stop moving once we experience pain, but restricting movement often makes things worse. Move a little, and often, without pushing through pain. For any persistent leg pain, it’s important to seek a professional assessment, because often the true cause is not all as it seems.

Stories that matter
Emails delivered daily
Sign up