A diagnosis of the underlying explanation for leg pain is important in formulating an efficient treatment plan. The diagnostic technique usually involves a comprehensive patient history combined with a physical exam. Medical imaging tests or diagnostic nerve block injections could also be appropriate in some cases.
Physical Examination and medical record
The goal of conducting a physical exam and reviewing the medical record is to spot the pain pattern within the leg and foot, also as check for concomitant and/or previous medical conditions.
During a physical examination, the doctor may check for:
- Pain within the low back, buttock, thigh, leg, and/or foot
- Swelling and skin changes within the leg or foot
- The response to certain stimuli, like while gently pressing the toes or calf region
The doctor can also tap certain areas within the knee or ankle to see for joint reflexes. These reflexes help evaluate muscle strength.
A medical record may include the doctor reviewing the following:
- Type, nature, onset, and duration of pain
- Presence of muscle spasms or cramps within the leg
- Changes in muscle strength within the leg and foot
- Factors that make the pain feel better or worse
- Trauma or injury to the rear , hip, or leg
- Current medical conditions or past treatments and/or surgeries
When a cause is suspected, medical imaging or diagnostic nerve block tests could also be ordered. These tests usually help a doctor confirm the suspected explanation for leg pain also as identify serious conditions, like tumors or infection. Medical imaging or diagnostic injections also help plan surgeries or other invasive treatments.