By cobaltmoe | June 22nd, 2021 |
The Anatomy of The Leg: The Basics
The human leg is made up of five different regions: the upper and lower leg, knee, ankle, and foot. Each of these regions is composed of a combination of bones, muscles, tendons, and cartilage. Below, you can find a breakdown of the basic parts of each region of the leg.
Upper Leg (Thigh)
- Femur — the thigh bone
- Hamstrings — three muscles on the back of the thigh, allow the knee to bend
- Quadriceps — four muscles on the front of the thigh, allow the knee to straighten
- Adductors — five muscles on the inside of the thigh, allow the thighs to close
Lower Leg (Calf)
- Tibia — the shin bone
- Fibula — the muscle next to the tibia
- Lower leg muscles — including the gastronemius, soleus, plantaris, tibialis muscles, and peroneus muscles, allow the foot and ankle to move
- Nerves — fibular and tibial nerves stimulate the muscles on the front and back of the leg, respectively
- Achilles tendon — connective tissue attaching the calf muscles to the ankle and foot
- Patella — the knee cap
- Knee ligaments — connective tissue surrounding a joint, stop bones from sliding
- Knee tendons — connective tissue on the end of muscles, attach muscles to bones
- Bursa — fluid sacs cushioning the knee joint
- Meniscus — cartilage separating the femur and tibia, provides balance and stability
- Medial ligaments — connective tissue in the inner ankle
- Lateral ligaments — connective tissue on the outer ankle
- Tarsals — seven bones making up the lower ankle and arch of the foot
- Metatarsals — five bones between the tarsals and toe bones
- Phalanges — the 14 bones of the toes
- Foot muscles — more than 20 muscles giving support and allowing movement
- Foot ligaments — hold together the boned of the arch of the foot
Common Underlying Causes of Leg Pain
Usually, leg pain is a symptom of either an injury or a disease. The cause of your leg pain will help your pain management doctor determine which treatment will work for you. The causes of leg pain can be grouped based on the type of pain experienced, as shown below.
- Vascular pain — pain due to a lack of blood flow resulting in discolored skin, pain, numbness, and heaviness.
- Neurological pain — pain due to malfunctions in the nervous system that can be present even when the sufferer is sitting still.
- Musculoskeletal pain — pain affecting the joints, ligaments, tendons, muscles, or bones.
Each of these types of pain can linger for years, greatly affecting the sufferer’s ability to function. Acute injuries may result in immediate pain that goes away once the injury is healed. However, causes of leg pain can also produce pain that develops slowly over time, making it more difficult to pinpoint a cause. Common causes of leg pain include:
I. Vascular Pain
- Deep vein thrombosis – when a blood clot forms in the deep veins of your legs and causes pain.
- Cellulitis – bacterial infection that causes redness, swelling, and pain.
- Varicose eczema – long-term condition that causes inflammation and pain in the lower legs because of fluid buildup.
- Varicose veins – veins right under the skin in legs that twist and swell, may cause aches and pain in some cases.
- Infections – bacterial, viral, fungal, or parasitic invasions of your body that can cause pain and disease.
- PAD – otherwise known as peripheral artery disease, fatty and/or calcium buildup in the veins of your legs that happens with age, diabetes, or smoking.
II. Neurological Pain
- Restless leg syndrome – a condition that causes uncontrollable urges to move the legs.
- Neuropathy – numbness, muscle weakness, and sharp pains are common in neuropathy, which could result from infections, diabetes, injury, or even certain toxins.
- Sciatic nerve pain – a pain that shoots from the lower back down one or both legs through the sciatic nerve.
III. Musculoskeletal Pain
- Acute injuries – injury done to ligaments, bone, muscles, and tendons. Bursitis can be an example of acute musculoskeletal pain.
- Arthritis – pain caused by the inflammation of certain joints.
- Compartment syndrome – a dangerous condition where extreme pain is brought on by either excessive swelling of tissues in the muscle or internal bleeding.
- Night cramps – involuntary, painful muscle spasms that tend to affect your calves when in bed.
- Strains – torn or pulled leg muscles.
- Fractures – breaks in the bones of the leg.
Top Causes of Acute Leg Injuries
Acute injuries are injuries that arise suddenly from physical activity, usually due to an accident of some kind. You may not be able to prevent these accidents from happening, but you may need to seek help from a pain management doctor for lingering leg pain if any of the following happen to you:
- Car crash
- Dog bite
- Slip and fall
- Violent assault
- Workplace accidents
- Athletic accidents
If you’ve suffered any of the accidents listed above, seek necessary medical attention from a doctor or nearby hospital.
After treating the initial injury, you may wish to find a pain management clinic to help you deal with lingering leg pain.
Pharmacological therapy is a method of treating pain with medication. Using many non-narcotic options to treat your leg pain at its source, our pain management clinic will work with you to find the right pain medication you need.
Trigger Point Injections
Trigger point injections are used to relieve knots of muscle that won’t relax. Injuries like muscle spasms (charley horse) and other types of muscle knots can cause a good amount of pain, and in order to alleviate it, trigger point injections can be administered.
Nerve Blocks for Treatment and Diagnosis
A nerve block is an injection used by a pain management specialist to numb a particular nerve or group of nerves. Nerve blocks can be used to treat pain or to verify the location of the pain-carrying nerves.
Pain can have a massive impact on all aspects of your life, so it should be no surprise that it can drastically affect your mental health. Implementing psychiatric treatment along with a pharmacological approach has become increasingly essential to the treatment of pain in the legs.