Drug Infonet provides drug and disease information for your healthcare needs. Visit our FAQ page to find answers to common health questions. Look on the Manufacturer Info page to link to pharmaceutical company pages. Click to Health Info and Health News for the latest in healthcare developments.
Drug Infonet brings this free resource to you so that you become a more informed consumer of healthcare.
Doctors' Answers to "Frequently Asked Questions" - Leg Pain
These comments are made for the purpose of discussion and should NOT be used as
recommendations for or against therapies or other treatments. An individual patient is
always advised to consult their own physician.
Horse Problems [posted 12/08/98]
Question: I've just started taking Detrol, and am to begin taking Elmiron in a
week. My question is: I've just developed extremely painful charlie horses in my calves
and severe cramping in my feet during the night. This has started since I've been taking
Detrol. Is this a side effect of Detrol, or what could be causing these cramps?
Answer: Probably the Detrol.
Leg Pain & Possible Circulation
Problems [posted 11/24/98]
Question: I'm a 54 yr old woman who has been suffering from severe leg pain
the last 6 months. The pain is worse at night when legs are up, it runs throughout the
entire legs, from hips to ankles. I do not exercise and spend all day in my store
standing. Most pain is in knees. Climbing steps has become almost impossible. Its a dull
pain, tingling at times, cold feeling within the legs. The pain never ceases. I have seen
many doctors who have told me stress or possible circulation. Im taking tendral which isnt
working. I'm also taking vitamin E and potassium. Can you offer any advice for me?
Answer: There are two possibilities. First, the nerves are
damaged. This can be a peripheral neuropathy (diabtetes and the like) or mechanical
pressure on the nerve usually in the lumbar spine (spinal stenosis). Secondly, it could be
decreased circulation. Both are easily tested by a CT of your lumbar spine, nerve
conduction studies of the legs and non-invasive arterial studies performed by a vascular
lab. Any moderate size city would have the ability to diagnose these. See a neurologist
and /or a vascular surgeon and you'll have your answer. Currently, it doesn't sound like
anyone is clear about your diagnosis.
Leg Pain & Rapid Heartbeat
Question: I am 36 years old, 5'5", and 125 pounds. Two years ago, I had
my left ovary removed due to endometriosis. Prior to my surgery, after lying down for
several minutes my heart would begin to beat wildly and my legs would ache. My heart would
resume beating normally after a few minutes but my legs would continue to ache until I was
able to fall asleep. Since the surgery this condition has improved dramatically, but I
still have episodes of both rapid heart rate and leg ache occurring several minutes after
lying down and subsiding after two or three minutes. I have reported this condition to my
doctor and have had an EKG which is normal. Should I be concerned?
Answer: I would do a Holter monitor during the time you produce this sensation.
Off hand, I don't have a clue.
Swollen Legs & Blisters
Question: My mother has been afraid of doctors and refuses any kind of medical
treatment.She recently has developed swelling in the legs and feet and water blisters have
developed and are bursting and draining water. Her legs are very tight and she can not
bend them at the knees and the skin is begining to dry out and flake off and she is
scratching them and causing open wounds..it is similar to a bad sunburn and I am at a loss
as to what to do..I know that this could be a sign of congestive heart failure and am very
concerned about what to do..she refuses to let me take her in for treatment but I feel
that I must do something..please help
Answer: Could be fluid or an infection, both need a doctor.
Leg / Foot Tingling [posted
Question: Recently my right foot and lower leg has started tingling. It's almost
the same sensation of being asleep. I also have a thyroid disease (hypo), but I assume
this is not connected. Also, it is not a constant feeling, but comes and goes.
Answer: Usually, this means a nerve compression/pressure from the spinal cord to
the leg. The most common cause would be a disc. However, you'll need an examination to
determine the source of the problem.
Leg Pain [posted 7/27/98]
Question: Over the past 2 or 3 weeks I have experienced pain in the back of both
legs where the knee bends. Not really at rest, but when I begin moving around it feels
like I could move wrong and mess it up. I have never had this before. I am not really that
physically active so as to have gotten hurt during competition. I rollerblade, but
havent for a good 2 months. The only thing I can think of is that I will often times
spend time in a crouched position and maybe have stood up too fast. I'm 31 years old. Does
this sound familiar?
Answer: Actually, this sounds like symmetrical arthritis. There are basically
two subdivisions of arthritis. Symmetrical and non-symmetrical. Symmetrical tends to be
seen in inflammatory arthritis - lupus, rheumatoid, etc. If it does not abate with NSAIDs,
I would definitely seen a physician for an evaluation. Trauma and other joint problems
tends to affect one joint at a time. The involvement of identical joints on both sides of
the body (symmetrical arthritis) is quite different.
Leg Pain - Post-operatively
Question: My husband had a disc removed approximately 2 years ago. He was told by
the surgeon after the surgery that the disc was fractured, coming out, and not going to
repair itself. He now is plagued with constant sciatica down one leg and hip. (He did not
have daily pain before the operation - his back just went out every other year or so.) A
follow-up MRI suggested that scar tissue was the cause. Epidural steroid shots have helped
the pain keep from "bleeding through" a twice daily regime of Voltaren. At this
point, the Voltaren controls the pain, but he has some stomach problems and takes Zantac
to help that. Do you have any suggestions to reduce the pain and get off the medications
regarding exercise, chiropractic, acupuncture, magnet therapy or anything else that help
him get back to normal? How about glucosamine sulfate and chondroitin? Also, he is at risk
for heart disease and we wonder if he should quit the daily aspirin since he is taking the
Answer: Many patients will continue to have pain post-operatively with spinal
surgery. One of the reasons we don't push it as a first option generally. I would try
acupuncture, but realize that it may not help. Also, a TENS unit is occasionally of help
(electrical stimulator). If he is taking daily Voltaren, the aspirin is superfluous.
However, the aspirin is a permanent inhibitor of platelet function, and the Voltaren is
only when it is present. So, stopping the NSAID (Voltaren or whatever) would give a time
period of increased risk (pretty small).
Leg ulcerations and wounds that won't
Question: My questions are regarding my grandmother. She is under the care of a
physician at this time but the condition for which she is being treated has been very slow
in healing, chronically painful with little or no relieve from analgesics, and recurring.
Grandmother is 69 years of age and a smoker. Her height is 5'10" and she weighs
approximately 145 to 155 pounds. She had early onset of menopause (at 35). She has had a
significantly large abdomen for many years. The enlargement began after menopause(grew for
a long period of time but has stayed the same size for about 5 years now). She has never
complained of discomfort or pain because of it. I refer to it because I feel it
contributes to the problem she is having now. Since menopause and since the enlargement of
her abdomen, my grandmother has had occurrences of ulcerations in her legs which has left
the skin discolored, scarred, thin, and fragile. She has complained for many years of
agonizing cramping in her legs while walking which persist for hours after she has gotten
off of her feet. Last year she had a wound of unknown origin just above her ankle. She
treated it with neosporin, zinc oxide, soap and water, and olive oil trying to get it to
heal. But it did not heal for a very long time, and it increased in size from that of a
dime to the size of a grapefruit. It was angry-red, weeping, and excruciatingly painful.
She got no relief from any analgesic. Finally, after going to 3 doctors, one determined it
was a wound caused from the bite of brown recluse spider. She was treated with oral
antibiotics, (Sulfa type, I think), Tramadol Hcl, and an antibiotic ointment. The
infection in the wound cleared but the pain did not and the doctor encased her leg and
ankle in an therapeutic boot-like bandage. After several weeks the wound healed and the
pain subsided. Two and a half months ago my grandmother bumped that area again and it went
from being a slight abrasion to a large wound. It looked like she had taken a spoon and
scraped out the flesh. The pain she is in is driving her mad. She returned to the doctor
and was given Zithromax and Vicodin but once again there was no relief for the pain. She
stopped taking the Vicodin and started taking Advil, Tylenol, Orudis, and Aspirin. Each
analgesic took over an hour to dull the pain and after a couple of doses they lost their
effect completely. Her doctor then prescribed Tramadol Hcl to be taken in conjunction with
Vicodin, (2 hour span between the doses) and dressed the site with another
therapeutic-type bandage. My grandmother is still hurting and to make things worse she is
convinced she won't ever stop hurting and she is worried about the effects all of the
drugs she has been taking has had on her body. She has not had symptoms of toxicity, but
her worry is genuine. What can we do? Could her enlarged abdomen be contributing to her
problems because of compromised circulation? How likely is it that she may have phlebitis
problems and this is why her wounds are so hard to heal?
Answer: There are several reasons that a wound in the lower extremities has
difficulty healing. 1. There is compromise of arterial flow to the legs. This can be
remedied by several treatments and will require non-invasive arterial testing. 2. A
systemic process is present like diabetes mellitus, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, etc...
an SMA 20, sedimentation rate, thyroid tests and CBC will suffice here. 3. There is
impairment of venous return from the legs. This sounds the most likely with your
grandmother and is often the hardest to treat. Does she have fluid in her abdomen? Has she
worn support stockings, etc...? I would ask the doctor about the above possibilities, and
then focus on things that can be done for venous insufficiency if that is the diagnosis.
However, if she has not had the above tests, I would.
Question: I started out with pain and numbness in my feet, mostly in the left one.
Then I could hardly walk for more than an hour; the pain was so bad that I had to sit
down. For the last six months I have had severe pain all the time from my left hip and
back of my leg. I only get about four hours of sleep a night because of the pain in the
whole left side of my leg, hip and left foot.
Answer: I'm not quite sure what your question is. Generally, this type of pain
is due to a compressed nerve in the lower back caused by arthritic spurs, a damaged disc
etc... Initial therapy would involve an examination, x-rays of the back, and usually
treatment with a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory for 2-3 weeks. Physical therapy is also
of help. If there is no change, or if the physical shows severe nerve involvement, a CT of
the lumbar spine and nerve conduction tests may be necessary.
Burning in Calves/Feet
Question: I am a 43 year old male. About 3 months ago I went out jogging with some
friend for about 3 miles. This is the first time I have ever jogged this far in my life.
All the following occurred after this and I don't know if its all related or not. At night
noticed by right foot/ankle was swollen. When I got up in the morning the foot/ankle
looked fine. I thought I had just twisted it and forgot about it. Must have been a week or
two later I noticed after checking it one evening my right foot/ankle was swollen. Again,
in the morning it was OK. There was no other pain. I continued to check and there was some
degree of swelling every day. I went to family doctor and he sent me to have X-rays of
foot/ankle, chest Ray, and also had blood tests done. All test came back OK. Doctor's
advice: take aspirin if it hurts. About a week or so later I noticed the foot was still
swelling, and I had developed burning in right foot and lower calf. Doctor again said all
tests look fine and give it time and take some aspirin. Subsequently I have had burning in
both lower legs below the knee and in feet toes. I then on my own had an appointment with
a doctor specializing in Rheumatology. He had some blood work done and said everything
looked fine. Since then I have been on various medicines like Furosemide 20 mg, DayPro 600
mg,Voltaren-XR and Nortriptyline 10mg. Two weeks after my last visit I called him due to
the burning in my feet and toes and the swelling in my calves. I made an appointment to
see him and from that appointment he wants to have a Nerve Conductivity test done on my
lower extremities. There has never been any swelling in my left foot/ankle,just in my
right ankle. There seems to be days when the swelling is slight and some when it is more
noticeable. I Always seem to have some swelling on the right side of my right foot
directly below the ankle bone that sticks on the foot. I would like to know if I should
see a foot doctor or another bone specialist. I have had some people tell me I could have
a slight bone fracture in my right foot/heel that might not show up on an X-RAY.
Answer: Two possibilities. 1.The symptoms are due to the excess running. For
this see a sports medicine specialist. 2. The symptoms have nothing to do with the excess
running; your doctors seem on the right track.
Question: I pulled my hamstring muscle seven weeks ago in hiking a stretch of the
Appalachian Trail in Pennsylvania. The first two weeks were painful and I followed the
RICE procedure and took motrin to relieve pain and swelling. I'm very active and look
forward to skiing. I am a 60 year old white male with a St. Jude mitral valve replacement
and taking coumadin. The value was replaced because of a candida albacans infection on the
mitral valve -- not a cardiovascular condition. I am not a member of a health club and am
not using weight-lifting, treadmill, weights or cycling exercises. My advisories indicate
I should be following an exercise regimen to rehabilitate the hamstring and avoid
Answer: Hamstring injuries usually take 6-8 weeks to heal-- they are very
difficult to eliminate. You are limited in taking NSAIDS because of the valve (coumadin, I
presume). Local heat and anti-inflammatories like BenGay, etc.. are OK. I agree with your
Question: What are some possible causes for when your legs to ache at night when
you first go to bed for a few hours?
Answer: There are several possibilities. First, peripheral neuropathy. That is,
early nerve damage, which is usually worse at night. It usually starts in the feet first
and is seen in Diabetes Mellitus and other diseases. Second, nerve compression in the low
back due to a disc or spinal stenosis. Third, arterial insufficiency of the legs. All
these will need a medical examination to determine the cause.
Question: What can I do for pain and swelling in the legs in the proximity of the
Answer: It depends a great deal whether it is in the joint or the soft tissues
surrounding the joint. Pain around the joint, but not in the joint could be a Baker's Cyst
(a congenital problem that occasionally needs surgery) or ligament/tendon inflammation.
Other possibilities are inflammation of the patella, usually chrondomalacia patella. Pain
in the joint could be a torn cartilage, arthritis or a host of other problems. Usually if
the pain does not improve with 8 to 9 days of NSAIDS (Motrin, Aleve, etc.) you should
contact a physician for an examination.
Question: When I am sleeping, I am continuously awakened by pain in my left lower
leg. It is a throbbing pain and often enough to keep me awake. I have had two back
surgeries, both for a herniated disks within the last four years.
Answer: I'm not sure what your question is. Nocturnal pain from disc disease is
common probably due to positional factors. Perhaps a repeat EMG by your physician would be
necessary to decide if you still have nerve root impingement.
Back to Drug InfoNet Home Page.
Back to Doctor FAQ main page.