The truth is that many things can influence the health of our legs. Unfortunately, one of the most common factors is simply getting older. As we age, all of us lose muscle mass as a natural part of the aging process. Since our body depends on its muscles, not just for lifting things, but also to aid in circulation, that loss of muscle mass can result in a variety of problems, especially for our legs and feet.
A common problem is that a reduced amount of muscle makes it easier to strain our leg muscles by doing too much. It might be a change of job that has us on our feet more or suddenly walking a lot more than we used to. It could be, perhaps, a weekend outing where we take a nice long, but slightly strenuous walk. The result can be swelling, numbness, tingling, cramps or changes in color or temperature of our legs or feet, all symptoms that can be caused by putting more strain on our feet and legs than they are typically used to.
The second result of aging is that some parts of our bodies do begin to wear out. If the arteries in our legs, for example, don’t operate as efficiently as they once did, the result can be a pooling of blood in our lower extremities. That can mean swollen ankles, varicose veins, constant consistently cold feet and similar leg problems.
Medications can be the Source of Foot and Leg Problems
Another common, but often overlooked source of leg health problems, can be the medications many of us take. A very common one for many women, birth control pills, can increase a woman’s risk of blood clots and the pain and potentially serious problems that can come with such clots. That risk is much higher for women who also smoke.
Some other common medications, such as diuretics (water pills), blood pressure medicines, drugs to reduce cholesterol, and even anti-nausea medicines, can cause muscle cramps as one of their common side-effects. Estrogen is another commonly prescribed medication for many women that can result in leg pain as a side effect.
The Effects of Alcohol and Smoking
Sometimes foot and leg pain may be associated with lifestyle choices we make. The consumption of alcohol, especially heavy drinking, has a clear association with circulatory problems, muscle cramps, and blood clots. Similarly, those who use tobacco also are putting themselves at high risk for similar leg problems, as well as for some other serious health issues.
Don’t Ignore Leg and Foot Problems
With so many things associated with leg and foot problems, it may seem almost inevitable that you will suffer from leg pain of some sort. In reality, however, while we all may have to expect some stiffness and soreness as part of the natural aging process, there are some things you can do to reduce your risk for severe foot and leg health issues.
An important first step is to talk with your personal doctor if you are having persistent or severe leg pain or other leg or foot-related problems. While swelling or cramping in your legs may seem only a minor problem, and most likely is, if it is a long-term problem for you, or causing significant pain, it might be a sign of a serious health issue. Your health professional can diagnose what the real cause is.
If your problem is recent and fairly minor in nature, chances are usually good that it will clear up soon on its own. However, if you want to monitor whether the condition is improving, and you want to analyze what the cause of the leg problems might be, that’s relatively easy to figure out. If you realize that you have changed your level of activity recently, it may simply be that you have tried to do too much too quickly, resulting in some simple stress or a minor injury.
You should also review the medications you are currently taking. If you believe that they might be related to your leg pain, call the physician who prescribed them to discuss the matter.
Taking Steps to Improve Foot and Leg Health
You can also take steps to minimize the leg pain, cramping or swelling you are experiencing, and try and make sure it does not happen again. Increasing your level of exercise, slowly and safely, is one way to address the problem. Although we may lose muscle mass as we age, exercising more can help us regain some of that muscle. And importantly, training tones our muscles, helping not only the muscles to operate more efficiently, but also maintaining our overall health. Good leg muscles are part of the power that helps our heart pump blood through the veins in our legs. Let those leg muscles get out of shape, however, and you automatically make your heart work harder to move the blood from your lower extremities back to your heart and lungs, and you increase your risk for blood clots, swollen ankles, and varicose veins.
A key factor, however, is to be smart about increasing the amount of exercise in your life. If you are in poor health, or past the age of 45, or have been living a very sedentary life, talk with your doctor first before undertaking any program of moderate to strenuous exercise. It’s also important when you do start adding additional exercise, which you begin slowly and take your time. If you are out of shape or overweight, that’s not something that happened overnight. Be realistic and give your body time to adapt to slowly increasing levels of physical activity. Don’t overdo and you won’t be making your foot or leg problems any worse, but instead will be making changes to ensure better future health.
Compression Hosiery Can Offer Many Benefits
Quality compression stockings by Jobst, Mediven, Juzo, or Sigvaris can also play a significant role in minimizing leg pain and swelling, as well as in preventing further leg problems. For both men and women, graduated compression stockings provide pressure that helps reduce pooling of the blood in the lower extremities, and that makes it easier for the heart to circulate the blood efficiently through our feet and legs and back to the heart.
While some people think compression hosiery is only essential for those with an existing medical condition affecting the feet or legs, the truth is that compression socks or pantyhose can benefit almost everyone. They are particularly important for people who spend a great deal of their time each day either standing on the feet or sitting in one position, such as at a desk. While there is no way to guarantee that you will never suffer from cramps, swelling or just simple leg pain, there clearly are many things you can do to minimize that risk.
If you are looking for treatment, you could call pain specialist Dr. Vengurlekar at Premier Pain Institute for your complete analysis. Check out the direction map which will show you how to reach Scottsdale or Phoenix pain centers.