Burning leg pain at night or during the day can be due to a number of reasons including sciatica nerve pain and peripheral neuropathy.
Experiencing leg pain after a hard day’s work is normal and not a cause of worry. This generally occurs due to exertion and a good night’s sleep is enough to get rid of this bothersome pain. However, intermediate episodes of burning leg pain throughout the day is something that cannot be ignored. Burning pain in the leg is often described as a burning sensation, an uncomfortable feeling, similar to inserting pins and needles into the skin.
As the name suggests, this type of pain is similar to an electric shock and in such a scenario, one may struggle to walk or operate a car. A constant pain in the leg is a debilitating condition that can cause weakness and trigger a feeling of numbness, thus making it difficult to move the leg. Reasons of this unusual pain in the leg are given below:
Damage of nerve running through the legs can also cause burning sensation in the legs. This condition is known as peripheral neuropathy and is commonly diagnosed in people with diabetes. Out-of-control diabetes can cause complications in the form of peripheral neuropathy. This is because high sugar in blood for prolonged periods of time, can impair the nerves located in the extremities (hands and legs). These nerves carry brain signals and supply sensation to the leg, hence any damage to them can send sharp shooting burning pain in the leg. Other causes of peripheral neuropathy include a trauma (accident), contact with toxins, and autoimmune diseases. As cases of diabetes are increasing at an alarming rate, among adults and children alike, this condition is considered to be the most common causes of burning leg pain when walking.
Sensory nerves do the job of transmitting sensation from the skin to the brain. Sensory nerve endings are located in the skin. So, when we press or prick the skin, put a hot or a cold object on the skin, the sensation of pain is immediately communicated through the nerve endings to the brain. We feel the pain because the sensation is relayed to the brain. These nerves make their way through the muscles, bones, and joints to transfer correct data to the brain.
When the sensory nerves traveling to the legs get compressed due to a muscle injury, one may feel tingling or a burning sensation in any part of the leg such as the thigh. When the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve in the thighs get squeezed, the condition is referred to as meralgia paresthetica. However, the painful sensation may not remain confined to the thighs but may also affect the knees and the buttocks.
Too Much Exercise
People doing strenuous physical activity such as running for prolonged periods of time may also complain about burning leg pain. Too much motion or overuse of legs can cause muscle cramps and irritate the nerves. High intensity exercises can also trigger muscle spasms and unusual pain in the lower body.
Chronic ailments like multiple sclerosis can also be responsible for triggering this unusual sensation in the legs. In this condition the myelin sheath coating the nerves is destroyed due to immune system attack. With no protective covering over the nerves, transmission of signals may take a backseat. Eventually, the nerves may also get damaged due to absence of myelin sheath, eventually causing burning pain. The location of pain varies depending upon the part of the body affected with nerve damage.
Deep Venous Thrombosis
This is a condition that disrupts normal circulation of blood in the leg. In this condition a blood clot occurs in the vein that is located deep into the leg. Thus, it interferes with the normal blood flow rate of the leg. Irregularities in the blood flow in this part of the body, often manifest in the form of pain and swelling in the leg.
It is observed that the symptoms of sciatica are often experienced in the lower back and the leg. As we all know, the sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in our body that begins from the lower back, passes through the buttocks as well as behind the thighs and calf. Finally, the nerve terminates at the feet. This nerve controls muscle movement in the legs and also provides normal sensation to the legs. For instance, a person putting his feet in cold water experiences a cold feeling due to presence of this nerve. Lower back problems, like herniated disc, can put undue pressure on the radical nerve (nerve root, an integral part of the sciatic nerve). The resultant pain can travel down to the lower leg. Constant burning sensation in the leg is the most common symptom of sciatica.
The spine, which provides support to the lower back, is primarily made up of bones (vertebrae). Now, in between two adjacent bones, lies a tough elastic tissue, circular in shape. These tissues are also referred as ‘discs’. With age, the ‘discs’ begin to show some unwanted changes. These tissues become brittle and deviate from their normal position, leading to compression of the sciatic nerve roots that lie just above these discs. This abnormal position of the disc is commonly referred as herniated disc. Sciatic nerve due to herniated discs is commonly diagnosed in older people (above 50).
As aforementioned, frequent episodes of burning sensation in the leg is a symptom of serious underlying condition and treatment at the earliest is necessary to prevent further complications. Sciatica problems that bring severe leg pain are treated with prescription drugs such as muscle relaxants. Attending physical therapy sessions as well as doing a set of stretching exercises, is one of the best remedies to improve herniated disc. Use of anticoagulants that help to prevent blood cloth formation, is the main treatment for patients suffering from deep venous thrombosis.