Arm and Leg Pain
Our shoulder and hip joints are two of our most frequently used joints and are prone to a wide range of possible injuries. Oftentimes people are completely unaware of what caused their pain, maybe it is a weekend warrior who overused the joint in an athletic competition, an unfortunate participant in a car accident, a person lifting too much weight at work or home, or a grandmother who fell asleep holding their grandchild in one position all night. Typically, these situations cause almost an immediate pain or discomfort as a result of muscle, bone, or nervous system damage and irritation. Our chiropractic clinic can help.
However, many people have arm and leg pain that develops gradually over time, and are unaware of what may have initially caused it. Vertebral subluxations, arthritis, bursitis, tendinitis, and frozen shoulder are the most common causes of pain.
It has also been shown that arm and leg pain is often caused by “referred pain,” where pain in one area moves to another part of the body. This may be best known as the arm pain that is commonly reported during a heart attack. A less common example is the pain that an inflamed gall bladder often causes under the right shoulder blade.
We frequently see patients who complain of arm and leg pain that is being referred from nerve irritation at the spine. If the spaces where the nerves leave the spine are narrowed due to the vertebrae or disc being out of position, the nerve can become irritated and often produces pain down its entire path. The pain patterns associated with sciatica are a good example of this mechanism.
What Is Causing My Leg Pain?
There are several different causes of leg pain. In our Chiropractic offices in Wentzville and St Charles there are 5 causes of leg pain that we see on a frequent basis. Each one requires a unique form of treatment, but all have a high rate of success. The 5 leg pain causes include sciatica, peripheral neuropathy, tendinitis, sprains/strains, and extremity subluxations. The first two, sciatica and peripheral neuropathy, may even see immediate results in terms of symptoms of leg pain due to the direct impact a spinal adjustment (realignment) can have on the nervous system.
Sciatica is a term that refers to pain that radiates down the path of the sciatic nerve, which happens to be the largest nerve in the human body. The sciatic nerve originates from the spinal cord in your low back (lumbar spine), then travels through the hips and buttocks, and then down the back of each leg. This is how it's able to sometimes cause leg pain along with pain in other areas. Many times sciatica is the result of pressure on an intervertebral disc, which in turn has aggravated the nerve. In several cases this pressure on the disc is a result of misalignments in the spine that have caused degeneration over the years. The job of your chiropractor is to return the spine to its optimal position, which will remove pressure from the disc and also the nerve. In certain cases the irritation to the sciatic nerve is due to muscle, often times the piriformis muscle. In that case, it is your chiropractor’s job to reduce the tension in the musculature.
Much like with sciatica, peripheral neuropathy deals with an irritation to the nervous system. Peripheral neuropathy can cause symptoms such as numbness, tingling, and burning into the legs and feet. The cause can be traumatic injury, diabetes, or infections, but just like with sciatica the cause can be potentially due to misalignments found in your spine. Over time these misalignments lead to enough degeneration and inflammation that the nerve is eventually affected. Just like with sciatica, spinal adjustments and muscle relaxation techniques can have very positive results.
Our next two culprits of leg pain, tendinitis and sprains/strains, deal with soft tissue directly found in the lower extremities. Tendinitis is the inflammation or irritation of a tendon, which are basically thick fibrous cords that attach muscles to bone. Tendinitis typically causes pain and discomfort in and around the joint and is often the result of repetitive motions involving the joint in question. Two common forms of tendinitis that cause leg pain are shin splints and jumper’s knee. Shin splints result from overuse of the posterior peroneal tendon and jumper’s knee results from overuse of the patellar tendon. As you can probably tell by these descriptions, tendinitis in the lower extremities is often found in people who are active on their feet, whether it is through work, sports, or exercise. Depending on the severity, leg pain from tendinitis may require rest, ice, and also muscle relaxation techniques.
Leg pain caused by a sprain or strain in the legs, on the other hand, is usually due to a traumatic, one-time event. Even though the terms sprain and strain are often used interchangeably, they actually involve different body parts. A sprain is an overstretching or tearing of a ligament, which are fibrous tissues that attach two bones together. A strain is an overstretching or tearing of a muscle or tendon. In either case your doctor may ask you to rest and ice the location initially, and when the inflammation is reduced you may require rehabilitation exercises and soft tissue work to not only fully eliminate the leg but also to be able to return to full functionality.
The last source of leg pain we more commonly see at our Wentzville and St Charles Chiropractic offices is due to misalignments within the joints of the hips, knees, or ankles. We spend most of our day adjusting, or realigning the bones in the spine, but there are cases when other joints of the body need to be realigned as well. These misalignments, or subluxations, may cause leg pain or other joint pain on a daily basis or may be increased through exercise or sports participation. Many patients experience relief in the joint as soon as proper alignment is restored.
Most people think about going to a chiropractor when they have low back pain, neck pain, or headaches. They don’t realize the great results they can experience for other regions of their body, including eliminating leg pain and pain in the hands and feet. We treat the body as a whole. We realize that all parts of the body are interconnected, and rely on each other to function as a finely tuned machine. For each patient we make sure we record a complete health history during the consultation, we perform a thorough examination, and follow that up with our detailed findings and recommendations. Following this protocol allows us to return our patients to optimal health as quickly as possible.