There are several causes of upper leg pain, many of which can be treated by a doctor of chiropractic. Depending on the source, whether it’s the lower back, pelvis, hips, or knees, instrument assisted adjustments may be the best treatment solution.
Deep vein thrombosis
One possible cause of upper leg pain is deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Symptoms of DVT can include lower back pain, leg pain, and swelling, among others. Patients who seek chiropractic care with possible DVT should be carefully screened, and if the DC suspects DVT, the patient’s physician should be contacted immediately.
Often chiropractic care can be beneficial once the patient has been treated and is taking an anticoagulant. In one such case, described in the Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association, the chiropractor recognized the clinical signs of possible DVT, referred the patient to his physician and followed up with a treatment plan that included soft tissue therapy, joint mobilization, and mild stretching.
Another commonly seen cause of upper leg pain is sciatica, the set of symptoms patients feel when the sciatic nerve is compressed or pinched. DCs are well acquainted with sciatica pain, and instrument adjusting can help ease the condition. A lessfrequently treated condition, claudication, may have a similar presentation to sciatica. Claudication is narrowing of the arteries, which causes cramping and pain, often brought by mild exercise such as walking. Claudication may be a symptom of peripheral arterial disease (PAD), and smokers are at high risk of the condition.
Chiropractic treatment involves spinal manipulation (often instrument assisted); however, since patients with PAD are at a drastically increased risk of stroke or heart attack, the DC should always refer patients to medical doctors when PAD is a possibility.
Muscle cramps, particularly in the hamstring, can cause debilitating pain, as well. Although there are many ways to avoid muscle cramps—such as stretching, staying
hydrated, and avoiding caffeine and sodium—DCs may be able to help. Soft tissue mobilization therapy performed with the proper instruments can release knots deep in the muscle tissues. People of any age may suffer muscle cramps, particularly those who exercise frequently.
While upper leg pain can be caused by a wide variety of conditions, DCs often find that instrument assisted adjusting can help. Targeted adjustments to the region causing the pain, as with sciatica, or mobilization of tissues and joints necessary to treat DVT and a host of other conditions, make instrument adjusting an appealing alternative to manual adjustments in some cases.
1Crowther E, Grod J, KopanskyGiles D. Acute proximal deep vein thrombosis: presentation in a chiropractic office. J Can Chiropr Assoc. 1995:39(4):205209.
Painter F. Patient with Low Back Pain and Somatic Referred Pain Concomitant with Intermittent Claudication in a Chriopractic Practice.Chiro Org. http://chiro.org/wordpress/2014/04/13/patientwithlowbackpainandsomaticreferredpainconcomitantwithintermittentclaudicationinachiropracticpractice/.
Published April 2014. Accessed October 2014.
Schimp D. The Leg to Worry About: A Systematic Approach to the Differential Diagnosis of Vascular Disease, Radiculopathy and Entrapment Neuropathy, Part I. J Amer Chiropr Assoc. 2012:49(5);1321.