Leg pain

Occurs commonly after injury, but there are many nontraumatic causes.

May be related to processes that affect bones, joints, muscles, tendons, ligaments, blood vessels, nerves, and skin.

Most leg pains are due to inflammation.

May be secondary to back lesions may cause radiation of pain down the extremity.

The large bones of the leg are the femur, tibia and fibula.

Smaller bones are found in the feet, toes, and the patella.

The major joints include the hip, knee, and ankle, and smaller joints in the feet and toes.

The joints are stabilized by ligaments and the ends of a bone that are part of a joint are covered with cartilage.

Muscles attach to bone and have tendons that stretch across a joint allowing joint movement.


Major muscle groups that affect leg movement include the buttocks, the quadriceps, the hamstrings, and the gastrocnemius, and other smaller muscles, including those in the foot.

All of the above tissues are subject to injury or inflammation and can cause leg pain.

Multiple processes of injury and inflammation can occur simultaneously and cause symptoms.

Neuropathy, especially related to diabetes, can cause leg pain.

Causes of pain, radiating down the legs include: sacroiliac joint pain, greater trochanteric bursitis, or iliotibial band syndrome.
Sacroiliac joint disease can present similarly to lumbar radiculopathy pain starting in the low back and radiating down the posterior lateral aspect of the upper thigh.
Patients will usually localized most of the pain to the affected SI joint.
Pain in the lateral hip can be attributed to greater trochanteric bursitis, iliotibial band syndrome or both, and are usually from repetitive use injuries.
Peripheral vascular disease may be associated with claudication.Trauma is the most aparent cause of leg pain with falls, near falls, and twisting injuries resulting in damage to bones, muscles,ligamnets and joints.

The back can be the source of pain,as with sciatica pain radiating down the leg.

Overuse injuries may cause pain of the lower extremity, and shin splints are such an injury if the tibia.

Bone fractures are obvious causes of leg pain.

Sprains, ligament injuries which are stretched or torn can result in inflammation and pain of the loer extremity.

Strains of muscles and tendons by stretching or tears can also cause leg pain.

Hemarthroses due to bleeding disorders or anticoagulants can cause leg pains.

Compartment syndromes with swelling within the leg compartments containing muscles can cause increased pressure to impair blood supply to surrounding tissues resulting in pain, numbness and impaired function of the lower extremity.

Numerous causes of nontraumatic leg pain exist and include systemic processes such as gout, pseudogout, hepatitis, systemic lupus erythematosus, peripheral vascular disease, diabetes, alcoholism, inflammatory bowel disease, Lyme disease, cancer, and vitamin deficiencies.

Thromboembolic disease of the arterial and venous systems may be associated with lower extremity pains.

Peripheral neuropathies, particularly from diabetes mellitus may cause lower extremity pain.

Inflammatory processes of the skin may cause leg pains, as may herpes zoster infections.

Lacerations and skin tears may be associated with leg pains.

Joint pain associated with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis is common.

Synovitis, or inflammation of the synovium the inner lining of a joint may be due to a systemic viral infection.

Myalgias of the lower extremity are commonly associated with a systemic infecion, particularly viral.

Muscle cramps are a common cause of lower extremity pains.

Leg pains in children may be caused by a joint infection, trauma to growth plates, and pain due to systemic illnesses like Henoch-Schonlein purpura, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, or rheumatic fever.

The so called “Growing pains” in children may be due to muscle overuse.

Lower extremity pains are variable as to site, and symptoms and can be described as

sharp, dull, aching, or burning.

Pains may be intermittent or constant in nature and may vary with activity and position.

Pain from muscles and joints may be precipitated by palpating the sites, while other pains may radiate from another location.

Pains may increase with activity or dissipate with rest.

Pains may increase at night such as with leg cramps and the restless leg syndrome.

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