Over the past 19 years of practicing as a chiropractor in Merritt, I have come across many patients who were complaining of pain at the back of the lower leg.

However, I specifically recall a few of them that had lower leg pain, but they could not recall doing anything to their leg that might have injured it.

In addition, all three of them had a history of high blood pressure, smoking, and a relatively sedentary lifestyle.

As with any patient with a new complaint, I examined their problem area carefully.

Typically, a patient who I see in my office with pain in his or her leg is related to an irritated or “pinched” sciatic nerve in their low back or pelvis.

When this nerve becomes irritated, it can refer pain down the leg, even as far as the toes. This is commonly called “sciatica.”

Interestingly, these people did not appear to have anything wrong with their low back and the leg looked slightly red and swollen.

The strength of the calf muscles in their lower legs were tested and appeared normal.

Contracting the calf muscles didn’t seem to aggravate or increase the calf pain either.

The only way their pain was reproduced was by palpating deep within the calf muscles or bending their ankle backwards so their toes pointed upwards.

This made me think of another possibility. Although chiropractors are trained to recognize this other possible problem, it was not something that I could treat.

Each of these patients was referred to their medical doctor for further diagnostic tests.

As suspected, each of them had a large blood clot in the deep lower leg veins.

The blood in the veins is under less pressure and can form clots easier, particularly in sedentary people with cardiovascular risk factors such as high blood pressure and smoking.

When there is a clot in the vein of the lower leg, the blood in the foot and ankle cannot travel back up the leg as well, resulting in swelling and pain.

However, this was the least of these patients’ problems.

If a small piece or fragment of the blood clot broke off, it would be carried with the flow of the blood through the blood vessels.

Eventually, this fragment of the blood clot could obstruct blood flow as these blood vessels get smaller in size.

This could happen in a lung, the heart, or even the brain.

Regardless of where the fragment ends up, the results are potentially deadly.

Luckily, all three of these patients were referred back to their medical doctor and received proper and timely treatment that dissolved the blood clot and there were no serious complications.

The point of this article is that if you get pain, redness, and swelling in the back of the knee or calf for no apparent reason, do not ignore it.

Even if you think it is just an irritated sciatic nerve, have your chiropractor or medical doctor examine it right away.