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Leg Pain (cont.)

When to Seek Medical Care

People often decide to seek care after an injury based upon their ability to stand, bear weight, and walk. This is often reasonable; however, if there is concern that a bone is broken or there is significant swelling to a joint, medical care should be sought in an urgent manner. One important reminder: Just because the leg can move does not mean that it is not injured.

In most other situations, leg pain has a gradual onset and patients seek medical attention when the pain begins to interfere with their daily lives. Often, leg pain is a part of a larger collection of symptoms and is not evaluated independently.

However, when leg pain begins suddenly, it should be a cause for concern and medical care should be sought urgently. This is especially the case if the leg is warm and swollen and deep venous thrombosis is of concern, or if the leg is pale and cool and an arterial clot is a consideration.

If back and leg pain occurs with episodes of increased muscle weakness, falling, or changes in bowel or bladder function, this may signal an emergency involving the spinal cord called cauda equina syndrome. Medical care should be accessed immediately.

Children who develop leg pain and begin to limp or who develop a fever should be seen immediately for evaluation.

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