The term fatigue refers to lack of energy, exhaustion or tiredness. Leg fatigue is a symptom and not a disease. Leg fatigue is where you are tired and experience a heavy feeling in your legs or lower extremities.
Causes of Leg Fatigue
A fatigued leg can be caused by the following:
Venous insufficiency: This is a condition where circulation of blood via your veins is insufficient thus causing blood to accumulate in your legs. Normally, arteries transmit blood from the heart to all parts of your body. The veins return blood to the heart. The veins have valves which prevent blood from moving back.
If you have venous insufficiency, your veins are unable to move blood from your legs to the heart. This causes blood to buildup in the veins in your legs.
Several causes are responsible for venous insufficiency. Blood clot is the most common cause of this condition. When a blood clot forms deep in the veins of your leg, it obstructs flow of blood from the vein to the heart which can cause venous insufficiency.
Damaged or missing valves in your veins can allow blood to leak back into the veins. In addition, you may have weak leg muscles to push blood from the legs to the heart.
Venous insufficiency causes swellings in your legs. The swelling is due to build up of fluids between your soft tissues or cells which make your leg feel tired and heavy.
Over exertion: This is one of the common causes of pain and fatigue in legs. Straining or over stretching your leg muscles particularly the thigh and calf muscles can cause pain and fatigue in your legs. Doing intense workouts or exercises for a long duration without warm up exercises can cause fatigue in your legs. Also increasing your exercises after a long duration of physical inactiveness can lead to fatigue in your leg.
Peripheral artery disease: Interference in flow of blood in your leg is another cause of leg fatigue. Peripheral artery disease occurs when there is a plague in the artery of your leg. This obstructs the flow of blood in the leg leading to leg fatigue and pain. The most common symptom of peripheral artery disease is pain you feel in your calf muscles when you walk or climb stairs. This disease is more common in diabetic people and those with high cholesterol levels. People who have smoked cigarettes for a long period of time are also at risk of this disease.
Nutritional deficiency: Insufficient amounts of vital nutrients in your body can cause many diseases including leg fatigue. You get nutrients from the food you eat. Vitamins and minerals are vital in boosting the energy of your muscles. Eating food that is low in vitamins E and minerals such as potassium and calcium can weaken your leg muscles leading to leg fatigue.
In order to determine the cause of a fatigued leg, your doctor may ask you the history of this symptom; when you began experiencing it. Your doctor may order the following tests if the cause is not yet known:
Blood tests: Your doctor will take a sample of your blood and analyze it to determine if infection is the cause of the problem.
Doppler ultrasound: This is a noninvasive test that can estimate the flow of blood in blood vessels. It uses high frequent sound waves that are directed to blood cells and creates images to help in analysis.
Doppler ultrasound test can help your doctor evaluate the following:
- Presence of blood clots in your blood vessels.
- Damaged valves in the veins of your leg.
- Peripheral artery disease
During Doppler ultrasound test, your doctor places a transducer on the area of your body to be examined. The transducer can be moved from one area of your body to another. This device releases high frequency sound waves to the blood cells and records the echoes which are used to create pictures.
Treatment for Leg Fatigue
Treating leg fatigue involves a combination of a healthy diet and home remedies. The following treatment options can be used:
- Use of hot water: Put the fatigued legs into warm water to alleviate the symptom. Bath salts are known to be especially helpful.
- Massage: Use coconut oil or olive oil to massage your leg. Massage improves blood flow in your legs as well as it aids to relax stretched or strained muscles.
- Use ice packs: Apply ice packs on the fatigued legs. This helps relax tense muscles.
- Diet: A healthy diet improves your overall health and strength. Eat food rich in potassium, calcium and vitamin E. Food rich in potassium includes bananas; you can eat three bananas each day. Potassium helps strength your muscles and prevent cramps.
- Quit smoking and drinking alcohol: Smoking and drinking alcohol can increase your chances of having blood clots. Try to reduce consumption of alcohol and quit smoking.
- You can also take an over-the-counter medication to alleviate the leg fatigue pain, like an ibuprofen or an aspirin.