When people think of chiropractic work, they immediately identify a few problem areas: the neck, and back primarily. Modern chiropractic care has many applications outside of that, though, and if you’re suffering from leg pain, it could be an excellent avenue for you.
Currently, an estimated 100 million Americans suffer from chronic pain, but only about 25% of these people head to a chiropractor for help, despite their ongoing and consistent pain. In the case of leg pain, which is commonly caused by back or sciatic pain radiating down into the leg, chiropractic care can and should be your first line of defense.
Here’s what you need to know.
What Causes Leg Pain?
Leg pain is a bit like back pain in that there are dozens of potential underlying causes. According to the Mayo Clinic,
“Most leg pain results from wear and tear, overuse, or injuries in joints or bones or muscles, ligaments, tendons or other soft tissues. Some types of leg pain can be traced to problems in your lower spine. Leg pain can also be caused by blood clots, varicose veins, or poor circulation.”
Additional causes of leg pain include the following:
- Tendon rupture
- Injuries in the ACL, MCL, or PCL
- Cancer in the bone
- Hairline fractures and breaks
- Inflammation in the joints.
- Soft tissue or muscle injuries
- Bone diseases
When to See a Chiropractor
Not sure if your leg pain is fleeting or chronic? Here are a few signs it’s time to see a chiropractor for an evaluation:
- You are unable to stand, sit, walk, or sleep normally
- There is evident swelling, discoloration, warmth, or redness in the affected area
- You hear a popping or grinding sound in your joint when you move
- Your leg pain does not decrease with rest or other treatment
- Your pain is getting worse
- Your pain is accompanied by swelling or redness in the leg
- Your pain has been chronic for a long time
Could it be Sciatica?
Sciatica, the last cause on the list above, is one of the most common forms of leg pain. According to Harvard Medical School, an estimated 40% of people will suffer from sciatica at some point in their lives, and the condition becomes more common with age. If you have chronic back pain, are a smoker, or are obese, you may be at increased risk of sciatica.
What Sciatica Feels Like
If you’ve ever experienced sciatica, you know how excruciating the pain can be. Generally, it starts in the interior portion of the hip and radiates down the leg and up into the back. While sciatica tends to be misdiagnosed as standard back pain, it’s a very different animal. While back pain originates in the joints or soft tissue of the spine, sciatica pain originates in your body’s sciatic nerves.
These nerves, each about as thick as a human finger, are the two largest nerves in the body. As showcased in the Mayo Clinic graphic below, the sciatic nerves start at the lower lumbar spine, run through the buttocks, down the back of your legs, and into the soles of the feet and toes. When these nerves (or the fibers that comprise them) become pinched, irritated, or swollen, pain radiates along the entirety of the nerve.
Part of what makes sciatic pain so difficult to diagnose is that it is not constant. While some sciatic pain is only mild soreness, other sciatic pain episodes can feel like a searing, stabbing pain that makes it difficult to walk.
What Will a Chiropractor do for leg Pain?
Sick of living with your leg pain? Heading to a chiropractor is an excellent way to find some relief. The fact is, chiropractors, work with leg pain all the time, and they’re excellent at diagnosing, identifying, and addressing various forms of leg, ankle, foot, and hip pain. Here’s a breakdown of the treatment method chiropractors tend to follow:
The first step in addressing leg pain is identifying what causes it. Because there’s such a wide variety of causes underlying leg pain, your chiropractor will generally start with an in-depth analysis and health history.
They’ll ask about old injuries, previous bouts of leg pain, and prior surgeries. The chiropractor may also make uses of ultrasounds, x-rays, or CT scans to identify the source of the leg pain.
In minor cases, like muscle cramps or mild strains, your chiropractic care will likely stop at light stretching and adjustments, which will probably be enough to resolve the issue.
Once your chiropractor has identified the source of the leg pain, they’ll start an adjustment process meant to provide relief.
Sometimes, correcting leg pain means adjusting the lumbar spine or back. In other cases, the chiropractor will adjust your foot, hip, ankle, or knee to relieve pain and promote healing. If you have any questions about your treatment during this phase, don’t hesitate to ask your chiropractor.
With severe leg pain, it may take more than a single adjustment to resolve the issue. In these cases, your chiropractor will work with you to develop a comprehensive treatment plan. While some leg pain will take weeks to resolve, more chronic pain may take months and a variety of holistic treatment methods to eliminate.
You Don’t Have to Live With Leg Pain
Chiropractic care has many applications, but it’s not the first treatment method people think of when it comes to leg pain. The truth, however, is that chiropractic care can be very applicable to leg pain, and is an excellent way to promote health and address the underlying causes of leg pain.
While leg pain is common, it doesn’t have to be a fact of your life. With a proper diet, exercise, and regular chiropractic care, you can identify and resolve the source of your leg pain, and step into a pain-free life.
Ready to find your relief? Contact our office today to book your first appointment.