Leg Pain Treatment – Physiotherapy

Leg Pain

Leg pain is a common condition that can arise from various causes, ranging from acute injuries to chronic diseases. It can manifest in different ways, such as stabbing, sharp, dull, aching, or tingling sensations.

At Opal Physio Langley, our physiotherapists have experience treating leg pain and can provide high-quality physical therapy services personalized to your needs. We can assist you in resolving your lower extremity pain and help speed up your recovery.

Leg Pain Treatment

Causes of leg pain

Leg pain can be caused by issues related to the muscles, joints, nerves, or blood vessels.

  • Muscle pain: This can result from a torn or overstretched muscle related to overexertion, excessive physical activity, or muscle injury, leading to strain, inflamed tendon (tendinitis), or shin splints (pain in the front of the leg from overuse). Dehydration or low amounts of potassium, sodium, calcium, or magnesium in the blood can also cause muscle cramps.
  • Joint pain: Joint discomfort is common and usually felt in the hands, feet, hips, knees, or spine. Arthritis is the most common cause of joint pain, with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis being the most prevalent types.
  • .Nerve pain: This type of pain can arise from peripheral neuropathy, which affects the nerves in your legs, causing them to feel prickly, tingly, numb, or weak. The other cause is the referred pain from sciatica and herniated disc.
  • Vascular pain: Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is a common medical condition that impacts the blood flow in the lower body area by narrowing the arteries in the legs, causing leg pain. This type of pain is called claudication.
  • Blood Clots: Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a condition that can affect the leg due to blood clots, causing swelling, redness, warmth, and pain in the leg.
  • Infections like cellulitis and osteomyelitis.
  • Injuries include fractures, sprains and strains.
  • Compartment Syndrome: Increased pressure within a muscle compartment, often due to swelling or injury.
  • Other: Leg pains can also be a source of chronic pain conditions and other disorders, including restless leg syndrome.

Symptoms of leg pain

The symptoms of leg pain are varied and depend on the underlying cause. It can be generalized, affecting the entire leg, or localized to a specific site. The pain may also vary in intensity and frequency.

Pain in the lower leg’s tendons, muscles, or joints is more localized and may be categorized as either proximal or distal, depending on where the pain is experienced. Proximal pain in the leg would be felt near or at the hip and knee, and distal leg pain could be felt further down from the knee.

Some common symptoms are:

  • Soreness, weakness, swelling (Muscle strain or overuse )
  • Stiffness, swelling, limited range of motion ( Joint pain )
  • Tingling, numbness, shooting pain ( Nerve pain )
  • Swelling, redness, warmth, pain ( DVT )
  • Cramping, fatigue, weakness ( Vascular pain )
  • Redness, warmth, swelling, fever ( Infections )
  • Pain, swelling, bruising ( Injuries )
  • Severe pain, swelling, numbness or tingling ( Compartment syndrome )
  • Cramping or pain during physical activity (exercise-induced), relieved with rest ( Claudication )

Types of leg pain:

  • Localized pain: Limited to a specific area, often due to injury or strain.
  • Radiating pain: Extends from one area to another, such as in sciatica.
  • Cramping pain: Involuntary muscle contractions, often associated with dehydration or muscle fatigue.
  • Throbbing pain: A pulsating sensation may indicate vascular issues.

When to seek medical attention:

  • Sudden and severe pain: Especially if accompanied by swelling or discoloration.
  • Persistent pain: Pain that doesn’t improve with rest or over-the-counter medications.
  • Signs of infection: Redness, warmth, or fever.
  • Numbness or tingling: Especially if it radiates down the leg.

Always consult a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan appropriate to your condition.


  • Rest and ice: Effective for acute injuries to reduce inflammation.
  • Pain medications: Over-the-counter or prescription medications for pain relief.
  • Physiotherapy: Strength and flexibility exercises can help with various conditions.
  • Compression: Used for conditions like DVT to improve blood flow.
  • Elevation: Elevating the legs can reduce swelling.
  • Surgery: Required for certain conditions like severe fractures or vascular issues.
  • Medications: Treatment for underlying causes, such as antibiotics for infections or anticoagulants for blood clots.
  • Lifestyle Changes: Maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, and avoiding prolonged sitting can prevent some causes of leg pain.

Physiotherapy’s role in diagnosing and treating leg pain

Physiotherapy is a critical component in both diagnosing and treating leg pain. It involves a comprehensive approach that starts with a thorough assessment to understand the root cause of the pain. This can include a physical examination and a detailed history taking, where the physiotherapist may ask about the pain’s location, nature, and severity and any factors that alleviate or exacerbate it.

Diagnosing leg pain

Physiotherapists use their expertise to differentiate between various causes of leg pain, including muscle cramps, sprains, nerve issues like sciatica, or vascular problems such as peripheral arterial disease (PAD).

They may inquire about symptoms such as pins and needles, numbness, or weakness and assess how the pain affects daily activities.

If the pain persists or is severe, they might refer the patient to their physician for further diagnostic tests like X-rays or MRI scans.

Leg Pain Physiotherapy Treatment

Physiotherapy treatment for leg pain

Once a diagnosis is made, physiotherapists develop a personalized treatment plan to reduce inflammation, relieve pain, and correct any improper form or muscle imbalances contributing to the pain.
Treatment strategies can include:

  • Manual Therapy: Techniques such as massage, mobilization, and manipulation to improve movement and reduce pain.
  • Exercise Therapy: Tailored exercises to strengthen muscles, improve flexibility, and enhance joint stability.
  • Modalities: Use laser, ultrasound, heat, and cold therapy to manage pain and inflammation.
  • Education: Advising on posture, ergonomics, and lifestyle modifications to prevent further injury and manage pain.
  • Physiotherapy also includes specific exercises and stretches that can alleviate pain or nerve flossing stretches for conditions like sciatica.
  • For leg pain stemming from back issues, physiotherapists may recommend exercises that target the nerves and improve spinal flexibility.

The importance of professional guidance

Attempting to self-treat leg pain without professional guidance can sometimes lead to temporary relief but may not address the underlying issue. A licensed physiotherapist can accurately assess the problem and provide a targeted treatment plan for adequate recovery.

Some of the conditions of leg pain are classified based on the areas where it occurs:

  • Bursitis – Trochanteric bursitis
  • Arthritis – Hip joint arthritis, including Osteoarthritis
  • Avascular necrosis
  • Femero-acetabular Impingement (FAI)
  • Hip dislocation or dysplasia
  • Hip fracture
  • Labral tear

  • Groin muscle strain
  • Impingement
  • Inguinal hernia
  • Tendinitis

  • Meralgia paresthetica
  • ITB syndrome
  • Quadriceps muscle strain
  • Iliopsoas muscle strain (hip Flexors)

  • Referred pain from sciatica
  • Hamstring muscle tear or strain

  • Ligament injury (ACL, LCL, PCL, MCL)
  • Fractures
  • Meniscus tear
  • Bursitis
  • Patellar tendinitis.
  • Osteoarthritis
  • ITB Syndrome
  • Osgood-Schlatter disease.
  • Patellofemoral pain syndrome
  • Osteochondritis dissecans

  • Stress Fracture
  • Shin Splints
  • Paget’s disease of the bone
  • Bone tumour
  • Compartment syndrome

  • Deep vein thrombosis
  • Muscle strain
  • Sciatica
  • Varicose veins
  • Restless leg syndrome

  • Achilles tendonitis
  • Achilles tendon rupture
  • Bursitis
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Sprain
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Fractures

  • Gout arthritis
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Stress fractures
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Metatarsalgia
  • Arch pain
  • Bone spurs
  • Bunions
  • Morton’s neuroma
  • Hammertoe
  • Tendonitis

Leg Pain FAQ

A variety of conditions can cause leg pain. Therefore, it is vital to understand the reason for the pain to find relief.

The most common cause is muscle strain or tightness in the lower back, buttocks, hips and hamstrings. Ligament injuries in knee and ankle.

Other causes include pinched nerves, sciatica, herniated discs, arthritis and infections.

Treating leg pain is a complicated issue. Various factors, such as muscle tension, inflammation, or other problems, could contribute to the pain. The best way to approach leg pain is to get a thorough evaluation and diagnosis to identify the source of the pain. Your specific diagnosis will determine the optimal treatment option for you. Physiotherapy can effectively help treat your leg discomfort.

A physician can help diagnose the cause of your leg pain. A physician will usually ask about your symptoms, examine your leg, conduct tests to assess the condition causing your pain and make appropriate referrals. Your physician may request an MRI or X-Ray to determine what is causing your leg pain.

If you’re experiencing leg pain or discomfort due to an injury, surgery, or any other reason, various home remedies can help you. These include taking non-prescription pain medications, icing the affected area, applying heat to the site of pain, applying compression to reduce swelling, and taking care of yourself by getting enough sleep, having adequate fluid intake, and eating nutritious food. Gentle stretching and walking are also good to help with keeping your mobility.

A person with diabetes may experience leg pain or discomfort due to peripheral nerve damage and circulatory issues. This, in turn, can’t send information to the brain about where your foot is to the ground when you are moving and can cause pain during activities. Symptoms include burning, aching, cramps, and numbness in the legs.

Yes, back pain can indeed cause leg pain. This is often due to a condition known as sciatica, which is pain that radiates along the path of the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve starts in the lower back and extends down the back of the leg into the foot. Other back problems that can cause leg pain include herniated or ruptured discs, nerve root compression, arthritis in the spine, and lumbar spinal stenosis.

Exercises are dependent on the cause of the pain. Several exercises can be done at home to help treat your leg pain. However, to get the most pain relief, it is advisable to take a personalized approach to any workout with the help of a physiotherapist.

Find out more about your treatment choices.

Getting a diagnosis of the origin of your pain symptoms is primary in addressing your pain. Your physiotherapist can recommend the best treatment options based on your diagnosis.

At Opal Physio, we provide evidence-based traditional and cutting-edge treatment to help heal your pain and get you back to doing what you love. Request a Consultation now.