When to See a Doctor for Leg Cramps

When to See a Doctor for Leg Cramps

You’ve most likely experienced leg cramps at some point in your life, and usually, they’re nothing to worry about. However, chronic leg discomfort could be a symptom of underlying vein disease. 

Eric Mai, MD, and the STL Vein & Cosmetics team specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of vein disease in St. Louis, Missouri. Dr. Mai treats leg pain based on the severity of your symptoms, as well as the cause of your leg pain. Read on if you’re not sure what’s causing the pain or are wondering if you should visit us at one of our two offices.

What’s a regular leg cramp and what’s more serious?

A leg cramp describes a painful ache or muscle spasm of the leg muscle. The cramp usually occurs spontaneously and once, but some people experience regular leg cramping. You might feel leg cramps during or after exercise, but it might be more serious if you have cramps that don’t seem to go away.

What causes muscle cramps?

If your legs cramp during or after exercise, it could mean you have a mineral deficiency. For example, you may need a magnesium supplement to reduce cramping or eat foods rich in magnesium, such as spinach and peanuts.

There are many other causes of leg pain, though. This kind of discomfort most often lies in a musculoskeletal condition such as tendonitis, arthritis, or fracture. But leg pain might be the first sign of something more serious, like vein disease.

What is vein disease?

Vein disease results from damage to your vein's walls or valves. Blood is pushed back to your heart and lungs through your veins to oxygenate the body in a healthy circulatory system. Your veins have valves that open and close to move blood forward and prevent blood from flowing backward.

When your veins are damaged, the valves in your veins may be unable to close, allowing blood to pool and flow backward. In addition to stretching the vein, this pooled blood inhibits normal circulation. 

Is my leg pain caused by vein disease?

Dr. Mai and his team at STL Vein & Cosmetics specialize in diagnosing and treating vein disorders. A comprehensive evaluation will be able to confirm or rule out a vein-related diagnosis if you suspect that your leg pain may be related to veins. 

Your provider asks you detailed questions about your symptoms, medical history, and family history during your exam. The next step is a physical exam, during which they closely examine your legs' circulation. 

Your provider may recommend a vascular ultrasound to confirm the diagnosis of vein disease. This non-invasive test evaluates circulation in the veins in your legs to look for problems.

Treating vein disease

Depending on the severity of your symptoms and the root cause of your leg pain, we offer many innovative non-surgical treatments to reduce or relieve leg cramps, such as: 

Our team may suggest lifestyle changes, such as regular exercise, wearing compression stockings, and taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications to improve circulation in your legs and reduce discomfort. 

Is it time to see a doctor for my leg cramps?

Leg cramps usually have harmless causes. They can indicate a mineral deficiency or tension from exercise. But if your leg cramping doesn’t subside, contact Dr. Mai and the specialists at STL Vein & Cosmetics either by phone or online for a consultation.

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