When Leg Pain is really Vascular Pain

  • February 5, 2018

Millions of individuals have complaints of leg pain. In the majority of cases this leg pain is of what we call musculoskeletal origin. This means the pain is coming from the muscles and/or joints of the hip, knee, ankle, or even low back. Sometimes, this pain could also be caused by the nervous system. All these situations, while unpleasant are common. There is one more source of leg pain, that while not overly common, carries with it significant ramifications…the cardiovascular system.

Yes, the system that supplies blood, nutrients, and oxygen throughout the body can in fact cause leg pain (Vascular Pain). Reduced bloodflow to the muscles can result in stinging, burning, or heavy sensations in a person’s legs. These sensations can occur in just one or both legs at the same time. The scary thing is, many people misattribute these sensations as purely musculoskeletal. People ignore these potentially dangerous symptoms. Worse yet, this issue can sometimes be overlooked by healthcare providers.

Cardiovascular (heart) disease is a major epidemic in this country. It is one that can have devastating effects for not only a person’s heart, but also their physical mobility. What makes this issue bad is not only may a person have heart disease, but they may have other health concerns as well such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and more, not to mention all the medications doctors love to put patients on.

What all this means is, individuals suffering with symptoms such as noted above should have a discussion with their primary care physician. Careful examination of their cardiovascular system should be done. If you begin your care with a physical therapist (as some people do now for muscle and joint issues), hopefully they will examine you in a way that will shed light on this potential problem. And if a problem is discovered then you will be referred to the best medical provider possible to manage your care.

I do not write this to specifically scare anyone who has leg heaviness, burning, etc in their legs. This is to inform people of a potential issue (Vascular Pain) that often is left unaddressed for too long. More often than not, leg pain is just that- a treatable issue with physical therapy interventions. But in the event the cardiovascular system is involved, then proper medical care must be delivered before physical therapy should commence.

If you are someone who has similar symptoms to what I just described, and have not had any change of symptoms with treatment…then question must be asked…has something been missed? Proper screening should include blood pressure, pulses, sensation, and even endurance testing.

So if you are struggling with leg pain and not finding a solution, have the conversation with your provider. The time is NOW to find an answer.

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Zang Physical Therapy ~ 836 Market St, Lemoyne PA 17043 ~ 717-440-6197 ~ andrew@zangpt.com ~