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Leg and Feet Pain Help

I've been backpacking for ten years and have never had any pain in my legs, but recently I've been getting a severe pain down the front of my legs and swelling in my feet. What could I be experiencing?

Question:

I’ve been backpacking for ten years and have never had any pain in my legs, but recently I’ve been getting a severe pain down the front of my legs and swelling in my feet. What could I be experiencing?

Submitted by - Justin, Boone, NC

Answer:

First and foremost, I’ll be guessing with limited info, and I suggest a good physical exam by a local doc who can check pulses, look for suspect facts, and otherwise provide a professional opinion. But here are some guesses:

Pain down the front of the thigh, usually one-sided pain, may be caused by nerve entrapment. The source can be a too-tight hipbelt (or a belt cinched too tightly over layers of clothing). Since you’re an experienced backpacker, I wonder if you have a new pack or if you’re wearing or doing anything new as a backpacker.

When the pain is in the front of both thighs, I tend to think the lower back is involved. When the pain is in the front of the lower legs, I’m suspicious of shin splints. New boots, terrain, extra weight, and tight calves are things I would look into.

The cause of the swelling in your feet is harder to pinpoint. It could be just related to a fluid imbalance while exercising. Poor circulation from clots in the leg could also cause leg swelling, but probably posterior leg pain as well. It’s puzzling.

Anyway, I’m shooting largely in the dark, and a local doc can probably figure out what’s going on.

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