Everyone suffers leg pain from time to time. In most cases, leg pain is caused by a relatively harmless concern such as minor injury or cramps. Minor leg pain usually disappears on its own with no need for medical intervention. However, if your leg pain persists for several days or weeks, is particularly severe or comes with other symptoms, you may need to see a doctor for diagnosis and treatment.
Not sure if your leg pain is serious enough to require a doctor? Here are three times when you should see a medical professional.
See a Doctor If You’ve Recently Been on a Plane
One of the most serious problems that leg pain can indicate is deep vein thrombosis. Commonly referred to as DVT, this condition happens when a blood clot forms in a vein deep in your leg.
The most concerning part of DVT is that these clots don’t stay in your leg; they can break apart and move through the body. If a clot reaches your lungs, it can cause a life-threatening blockage in the lungs called a pulmonary embolism.
But what does this have to do with recently travelling on a plane? The answer is that flying can greatly increase your risk of developing DVT. Airplane seats are cramped, and long haul flights leave passengers sitting for very long periods. This prolonged, uncomfortable sitting leads to DVT.
So if you’ve recently taken a flight and you’re now suffering from leg pain, get it checked out by a doctor. As long as you catch DVT early, medications can help reduce your clot and stop it from growing.
See a Doctor If You Have Swelling, Cramping or Discolouration
Plane travel isn’t the only cause of deep vein thrombosis. Any reduced mobility can restrict blood flow and cause a clot; aside from plane travel, the same goes for staying in hospital or in bed for a long time. Injury can also cause DVT if your blood vessels become damaged and constricted. Those on certain medications may also be at an increased risk of clots.
You should see a doctor if you have any other symptoms of DVT besides pain. One of the most common symptoms is swelling in your one of your legs, ankles or feet. Cramps that begin in your calf area and spreads through your leg can also indicate a blood clot.
You should also look for discolouration; Reddish, bluish or pale areas on the leg can also signal DVT, particularly if the area feels unusually warm.
See Your Doctor If You Have an Underlying Health Problem
For most healthy people who aren’t at risk of deep vein thrombosis, leg pain usually doesn’t signal a serious problem. However, those with certain medical problems should keep a close eye on their leg health, as it can be a sign of a worsening condition.
One example is diabetes. Leg pain, numbness and cramps in people with diabetes can be a sign of a condition called diabetic neuropathy, where diabetes causes damage to the nerves, usually as a result of prolonged high blood sugar levels.
Over time, diabetic neuropathy can cause many complications. At the minor end, you could find yourself dealing with urinary tract infections and digestive problems. On the serious end, neuropathy can lead to infections, which in turn can require amputation.
If you have a health problem that can affect your legs, you should see a doctor if you start experiencing leg pain. After all, the best way to deal with any complication is to get treated early.
If you think you need to see a doctor about your leg pain but that pain is preventing you from visiting a clinic, contact Hello Home Doctor. We offer home doctor’s visits and out of hours care to patients in and around Ipswich.