Leg Pain: A Cause for Concern?

Aging usually means creaky bones and aching joints. Pain in the legs often means rheumatism and/or arthritis. However, Sheldon G. Sheps, M.D. of the Mayo Clinic, says new and persistent leg pain calls for a visit to your doctor’s office, especially if it occurs after prolonged sitting or standing.

Why you should be concerned

Pain after prolonged sitting or standing may indicate a possible accumulation of fluid in the veins or venous congestion.

Venous congestion occurs when the valves in the legs malfunction and fail to keep the blood moving efficiently from the legs to the heart. Rather, blood builds up in the legs and feet, resulting in pain and swelling.

Phlebitis or a past inflammation of a vein may damage the valves and cause venous congestion. Poor valvular function also contributes to varicose veins – swollen veins visible just beneath the skin. Varicose veins may also cause venous congestion.

People who suffer from venous congestion describe the pain as a burning or cramping sensation, chiefly in the calf, and worsen after extended periods of sitting or standing. Obesity and lack of physical activity add to the problem.

What you can do

Visit your doctor if you suspect venous congestion. He or she can ascertain the cause of your leg pain by looking at your medical history and by performing a physical examination. If the pain in your leg is indeed cased by venous congestion, possible treatments include:

  • Wearing compression hosiery
  • Increased physical activity
  • Elevating your legs above heart level for 15-30 minutes when they hurt.

Source: Mayo Clinic