The legs are vital anatomical structures that through thousands of years of evolution have allowed humans the ability to be bipedal, another word for the ability to walk on two limbs. With a task as large as holding the weight of your whole body, legs can encounter quite a bit of stress.
The bones, joints, and muscles of the leg need to hold up the weight of the body constantly. In addition, the circulatory system needs to deliver blood to these lower extremities and fight against gravity to deliver blood back to the heart. All of these systems need to work in symphony to allow for the everyday functioning of the legs.
With all of these moving parts, the legs can become susceptible to different injuries. These deficiencies can result in leg pain and can disrupt normal function. Leg pain comes in all sorts of shapes and sizes, and the type of pain experienced has a lot to do with what system is being affected.
When leg pain hits, it can be rather disruptive to your everyday routine. Elevation is a proven way that can alleviate some kinds of leg pain.
Below is a discussion of what causes leg pain, how elevation helps pain relief, how to achieve proper leg elevation, as well as the limitations and alternatives to leg elevation. This information will give you the knowledge to take charge of your leg pain and take back your day.
What Causes Leg Pain?
As discussed, there are a lot of moving components and body systems that allow for the proper functioning of the legs. Bones, joints, muscles, tendons, arteries, veins, and nerves are all components that play a direct role in leg movement and function. If any of these components are damaged, injured, strained, or overused it can lead to the sensation of pain.
Below is a description of some common causes of leg pain and discomfort:
- Edema – Edema is a condition of fluid accumulation. For the legs, edema is a common condition that results in the swelling of the legs. Edema can be caused by poor lower extremity circulation or being on your feet for too long of a period of time.
- Arthritis – Arthritis is any condition that leads to the inflammation of joints. For the leg joints, inflammation can occur in the hips, knees, or ankles. There are many different subsets of arthritis which include osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, and others. Generally, arthritic pain is felt at the location of the joints and can be chronic dull pain.
- Muscle Strain – A muscle strain occurs when a muscle is pushed beyond its capabilities and tears. Muscle tears can result from extended overuse, bearing too much weight, and overworked and tired muscles. Muscle strain is a common source of leg pain and the pain will typically follow exercise. Typically muscle strains will result in pain of a particular muscle group and will lead to inflammatory pain.
- Neuropathy – Neuropathy, also known as nerve pain, can be caused by the compression or injury to a nerve. One of the most common kinds of neuropathic leg pain is sciatica. Sciatica is typically caused by the compression of the sciatic nerve that runs along the leg. The compression is typically caused by spinal compression in the lower back where the nerve exits the spinal cord.
What Can Leg Elevation Do To Help?
With the possible causes of leg pain discussed, you can better understand how leg elevation can help reduce the feeling of pain. Leg elevation works in two distinct ways.
The more conventional way in which leg elevation is utilized is to reduce swelling. Utilizing leg elevation techniques act to reduce swelling by pushing excess fluids back to the trunk of the body. Leg edema and other swelling issues of the lower leg are caused by the body’s inability to substantially fight the forces of gravity during fluid circulation. This results in fluid pooling at the lower parts of the leg. By positioning the legs above the heart, this excess fluid can more effectively flow as it does not need to struggle against the forces of gravity.
Leg elevation can also help in relieving spinal compression-associated pain. When you lay down flat, the lower spinal cord curves upward and is in a slight compressed state. Elevating the legs can take stress of the lower spine which could reduce sciatica associated pain.
How To Achieve Proper Leg Elevation
Leg elevation is a great way to achieve temporary pain relief, however, to be effective you need to have the correct leg elevation technique. To accomplish proper leg elevation you want to position your legs above the level of your heart and have a leg posture that does not inhibit blood flow. Utilizing a stack of pillows on the side of a couch may seem sufficient, however, these methods can offer sub-optimal results as they can lead to the occlusion of blood flow to the legs.
The best way to achieve optimum leg elevation at home is to utilize the Hempvana Leg Ramp. The ramp offers best-in-class leg elevation that is designed to be ergonomic and comfortable, all while supplying the temporary pain relief of leg elevation. The angle of the ramp allows for optimal blood flow and optimal elevation allowing for increased fluid flow and optimal posture.
Limitations of Leg Elevation
Like many forms of possible pain relief solutions, leg elevation has its limitations to who can benefit from it. The best way to ensure leg elevation is right for you is to consult with your primary care physician.
Below are two specific cases in which leg elevation may not be a suitable solution to leg pain.
Congestive Heart Failure – Congestive heart failure (CHF) is a condition in which the heart is unable to effectively pump blood. Decreased circulation could cause edema and fluid retention in the lower legs. It is cautioned against utilizing leg elevation for those with CHF because the elevation of the legs may be too much for the circulatory system to take on for those suffering from a lower heart output. A decreased efficiency in circulation could lead to the elevated legs of those with CHF to have a lower amount of blood supplied to the legs. If you have CHF and CHF associated edema, consult your doctor to find a suitable management technique.
Peripheral Arterial Disease – Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is a condition that results in the narrowing of the arteries that carry blood to the legs and arms. As described previously, poor circulation can lead to edema and the pooling of fluids in the distal parts of the legs. For the same reason it is cautioned against utilizing leg elevation for those with CHF, individuals with PAD need to ensure that a proper amount of blood flow is making its way to the legs. Leg elevation with PAD can actually worsen leg discomfort.
Alternatives to Leg Elevation
Leg elevation may not be for everyone, but it is not the only solution to leg pain relief. Below are alternative ways you can achieve leg pain relief.
- Topical Pain Relief: Leg elevation is a great way to achieve pain relief at the comforts of home, but many people cannot afford the time to sit with their legs constantly elevated. A great on the go solution to leg pain is a topical pain reliever like Hempvana Pain Relief Cream. The active ingredient Trolamine Salicylate acts to reduce pain from inflammation. The addition of hemp seed extract leaves the skin feeling soft and hydrated while providing targeted temporary pain relief.
- Compression Wear: Compression wear is a great alternative to leg elevation that is able to achieve similar results. Compression wear works by providing extra support and squeezes to your legs that are able to help reduce inflammation and fluid pooling. Compression socks are a great way to improve lower extremity circulation while also providing some temporary pain relief. The best compression socks are those that are graduated, meaning they offer the most pressure at the feet and slowly decrease the added pressure as you go up the leg.
- Ice: Ice is a great way to achieve pain relief from inflammation-related pain. While icing is effective, one has to be cautious when icing to ensure frostbite of the area does not occur. Hempvana’s Cold as Ice Roll-On is a great way to get the same cooling relief from ice without having to worry about the risk of frostbite.
In summary, there are many different ways that pain can be caused in the legs. Leg elevation with a leg ramp can help with temporary pain relief from many of the common causes of leg pain. Whether it be from a muscle strain or edema, leg elevation offers a simple at-home method of reducing inflammation naturally by utilizing the power of gravity. Seek medical advice to determine if leg elevation is right for you.