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Leg Pain Offers a Long List of Possible Problems
Medically reviewed by Dr. Pat Denton, Pee Dee Orthopaedic Associates
Hip Joint? Bad Knee? Leg Cramps? Torn Muscle? Hairline Fracture? Inflamed Tendon? “In medical terms, those questions are the beginning of a differential diagnosis,” says McLeod Orthopedic Specialist Dr. Pat Denton of Pee Dee Orthopaedic Associates. “For most people, the term leg pain can be the key to a multitude of medical issues – some minor, some serious. Many – but not all – are handled by Orthopedic Specialists.” Let’s try to sort things out a bit. Orthopedic Specialists primarily deal with problems related to your bones, joints, muscles, ligaments, tendons and nerves. Below are some common leg pain issues treated by Orthopedic Specialists:
- Total Joint Replacement. When arthritis or injury leaves a person’s hip or knee joint with limited mobility and pain, new joints can be installed – some lasting as long as 30 years.
- Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) or Meniscus Tears. When a quick stop or twist causes one of these tissues to split, surgery is often the only successful treatment to get you back on your feet. Injury to your Achilles Tendon, near the heel of your foot, also falls into this category.
- Spinal Problems can trigger pain that radiates down the leg. In this case, an Orthopedic Specialist who deals with back problems may be preferred.
- Exercise-Related Injuries – from tendonitis to stress fractures – are problems that an Orthopedic Specialist is trained to deal with.
- And, of course, regular fractures are the domain of an Orthopedic Specialist.
Other problems might be best treated by other specialists, such as:
Leg cramps can have numerous causes from simple dehydration to a disorder of the adrenal or thyroid glands. Your personal physician is a good place to start when trying to determine a cause and treatment options. If the problem is related to hormonal glands, you may end up seeing an Endocrinologist.
Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) – issues with blood flow – can also cause pain. You may need to be treated by a Vascular Specialist – rather than an Orthopedic Specialist – for this potentially serious problem.
As you can see, a simple aching leg may not be simple at all. Don’t ignore leg pain. See a physician for a diagnosis and treatment options.
Sources include: McLeod Health, National Institutes of Health, National Health Service (UK), American Association of Family Physicians