Throbbing pain in legs

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Leg Pain

Joint and nerve pain and muscle cramps in the legs are a common symptom of age, especially for people over 50.

Leg pain is a widespread and growing problem, especially among people over 50 and those who are overweight or obese.

A person with leg pain has discomfort in the structures of the leg, possibly caused by an injury, irritation, or inflammation of the skin, muscles, bones, or joints in the leg. Sciatica, or a herniated disk in the lumbar spine, may cause pain that shoots down the leg.

Regular knee pain occurs in one quarter of adults, and painful leg cramps affect one third to 95% of adults frequently. Most leg pain is not a medical emergency but is caused by wear and tear, especially related to osteoarthritis on the joints, overuse, or injuries to the bones and ligaments.

Poor circulation, blood clots, and varicose veins can also cause leg pain and cramping.

Leg pain and numbness can be experienced in many forms-some patients describe the pain as aching, searing, throbbing, or burning, or like standing in a bucket of ice water, especially the pain that results from overuse or injuries.

To identify the source of your leg pain, it helps to track the position of path of the pain as it radiates down the leg. The sensations (tingling, shooting), frequency (occasional, often) and a clear description of what alleviates or worsens the pain can help identify the cause and cure.

Other types of pain include a tender dull ache or stabbing sensation. Pain can be acute (short-term) or chronic (long-term), and can be rated on a scale of severity from mild to severe, often rated on a numerical scale. Most leg pain can be treated at home by resting and elevating the legs, or treating swelling and inflammation with ice or over-the-counter pain relievers.

Leg Pain Symptoms

Symptoms that can occur with leg pain due to an injury include leg bruising, leg swelling, leg tenderness, and the inability to walk on the leg. Symptoms that can occur with leg pain due to infection or inflammation include skin redness, leg swelling, fever, joint swelling, joint pain, back pain, and swollen lymph glands in the groin.

“Pins and needles” sensations in the leg could be a sign of an underlying neurological problem, or it could mean your leg as simply fallen asleep as a result of poor circulation.

Leg Pain Treatment

Treatment for leg pain depends on the underlying cause. Treatment for leg pain may include rest, cold compresses, elevation, crutches, an elastic wrap, a splint or cast, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications for pain, and surgery.

You can treat leg pain at home by resting your leg as much as possible, taking an over-the-counter pain reliever, such as aspirin or ibuprofen, to help ease discomfort as your leg heals, and applying ice to legs.

See your doctor if you’re experiencing severe or persistent leg pain.

See your doctor or go to the emergency room if you have a deep wound or cut on your leg, your leg is pale and cool to the touch, or your leg injury makes it impossible to stand or walk.

When leg pain means there’s a timebomb in your arteries

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  • Kanye West looks glum while leaving his Calabasas office just days before his Superbowl Sunday Service in Miami
  • Rebel Wilson reveals she was sexually harassed… and says she once had a STALKER who planned to lock her on his rural Victorian farm until she ‘loved him’
  • Debi Mazar says her best friend Madonna’s toyboy Ahlamalik Williams, 25, is ‘lovely’ and ‘sweet’

Deep Vein Thrombosis

Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) can occur almost anywhere in the body, but is very common in the legs. DVT occurs when a blood clot forms in a vein somewhere in the body. In general people who are forced to sit still for extended periods of time, like while riding in a plane or a long road trip in a car, have a high risk of being affected by deep vein thrombosis. While this condition is usually very painful, it carries with it a very serious risk of death. While rare, but not unheard of, the blood clot may break loose and move to the lungs where it blocks the blood flow and creates a pulmonary embolism like the one that killed the journalist David Bloom early in the second Iraq War.

Symptoms of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)?

Deep vein thrombosis carries with it a few specific symptoms. Typically the patent will see some swelling in the leg, especially near the foot and ankle. The skin may start to change color in the leg, potentially turning either red, blue, or turning completely pale. The skin may start to feel warm to the touch, especially in the swollen areas. The most usual complaint with DVT is severe pain in the calf, ankle, or foot. Typically the pain begins as a cramping or charley horse in the lower leg. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms it is important to make an appointment with an orthopedic doctor right away.

Risk Factors

There are many potential risk factors for deep vein thrombosis. Some of the more common risk factors are:

  • Extended periods of sitting
  • Recent surgery or injury
  • Pregnancy
  • Smoking
  • Taking birth control or hormone replacement
  • A history of heart attacks
  • Age over 60 years old
  • Men who are very tall

Deep Vein Thrombosis Treatment and Prevention

The treatments of deep vein thrombosis are usually designed to prevent the blood clot from increasing in size, stopping the clot from becoming dislodged, and minimizing the chances of another DVT from occurring. An orthopedic doctor may choose to use compression stockings to prevent the swelling, blood thinners to reduce the bloods ability to clot, and clot-busters that are designed to break clots up into small pieces. In some cases a physician may suggest inserting a filter into a vein in the stomach that stops any dislodged blood clots from traveling to the lungs. If you are experiencing the symptoms of deep vein thrombosis it is important to immediately make an appointment with an orthopedic physician, like the ones at IBJI. The physicians at the Illinois Bone and Joint Institute have years of experience treating DVT. They are your best choice for treating deep vein thrombosis and avoiding its life threatening effects.

This information is not intended to provide advise or treatment for a specific situation. Consult your physician and medical team for information and treatment plans on your specific condition(s).

What Causes Growing Pain Sensations in Adults?

There are many conditions that may feel like growing pains, but they generally come with other symptoms. Some conditions that may cause symptoms similar to growing pains include:

Restless legs syndrome

Restless legs syndrome gives you an uncontrollable urge to move your legs because of uncomfortable sensations in them. Moving your legs will temporarily relieve your symptoms.

Symptoms of restless legs syndrome include:

  • uncomfortable sensations in the evening or nighttime, especially while you’re sitting or lying down
  • twitching and kicking your legs while sleeping

If you think you might have restless legs syndrome, talk to a doctor. This syndrome can interfere with sleep, which can negatively affect your quality of life.

Joint hypermobility

Joint hypermobility occurs when you have an unusually large range of movement in your joints. You might know it as being double-jointed.

Many people with joint hypermobility don’t have any symptoms or issues. However, some people may experience:

  • joint pain
  • clicking joints
  • fatigue
  • gastrointestinal symptoms, such as diarrhea and constipation
  • recurrent soft tissue injuries like sprains
  • joints that dislocate easily

Having these symptoms in addition to joint hypermobility is called joint hypermobility syndrome. If you have these symptoms, see a doctor. You may have issues with your connective tissue.

Lyme disease

Lyme disease is an illness caused by tick-borne bacteria. Symptoms of Lyme disease include:

  • fever
  • headache
  • fatigue
  • bullseye or circular rash

Lyme disease is treatable with antibiotics. However, if left untreated, it can spread to your joints, heart, and nervous system. If you have a fever and other symptoms that don’t improve, see a doctor, especially if you’ve been in an area with Lyme disease or were bitten by a tick.

Cramps

Cramps are involuntary muscle contractions. They may make your muscles feel tight or knotted. Leg cramps often occur in the calves and at night. They come on suddenly and are most common in middle-aged or older adults.

Occasional leg cramps are common and usually harmless. However, if your cramps are frequent and severe, see a doctor.

Blood clots

Deep vein thrombosis is a blood clot that forms in the major veins of your body, most commonly in the legs. In some cases, you might not have any symptoms. If you do have symptoms, they may include:

  • leg pain
  • redness
  • warmth in the affected leg
  • swelling

Blood clots are usually caused by an underlying medical condition. They can also be caused by not moving for a long period of time, such as after surgery.

If you think you have a blood clot in your leg, see a doctor as soon as possible. The blood clot can break away and move to your lungs, which is a medical emergency.

Shin splints

Shin splints are an inflammation of the muscles, tendons, and bone tissue around your tibia. You’ll have pain on the inside of your shin, where the muscle meets the bone.

The pain usually comes during or after exercise. It’s generally sharp and throbbing, and is made worse by touching the inflamed spot. Shin splints can also cause minor swelling.

Shin splints can often be treated at home with rest, ice, and stretching. If these don’t help or your pain is severe, see a doctor.

Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia causes aches and pains all over your body. It can also cause:

  • fatigue
  • mood problems, such as depression or anxiety
  • memory loss
  • irritable bowel syndrome
  • headaches
  • numbness or tingling in your hands and feet
  • sensitivity to noise, light, or temperature

If you have multiple symptoms of fibromyalgia, or the symptoms interfere with your daily life, see a doctor. People with fibromyalgia sometimes have to see multiple doctors before receiving a diagnosis.

Bone cancer

Bone cancer (osteosarcoma) is a type of cancer that affects the bones themselves. Bone pain is the most common symptom. It usually starts as tenderness, then turns into an ache that doesn’t go away, even while resting.

Other signs of bone cancer include:

  • swelling
  • redness
  • lump on the affected bone
  • affected bone breaking more easily

See a doctor if you have severe bone pain that’s persistent or worsens over time.

Stress fractures

Stress fractures are tiny cracks in the bone, usually caused by overuse. Symptoms include:

  • pain that worsens over time
  • tenderness that comes from a specific spot
  • swelling

Most stress fractures will heal with rest. If the pain is severe or doesn’t go away with rest, see a doctor.

Osteomyelitis

Osteomyelitis is an infection in the bone. It can either start in the bone, or it can travel through the bloodstream to infect the bone. Symptoms include:

  • pain
  • swelling
  • redness
  • warmth in the affected area
  • fever
  • nausea
  • general discomfort

See a doctor if you have these symptoms, especially if you’re an older adult, have diabetes, a weakened immune system, or a higher risk of infection. Osteomyelitis can be treated with antibiotics. However, if left untreated, it can cause bone tissue death.

Leg Pain Can Mean Heart Danger, Expert Says

David Dow thought he was having back problems, and that his legs were hurting as a result. As it turns out, that pain may have saved his life.

An otherwise healthy 57-year-old, he figured he just needed to learn some back-strengthening exercises, so he found a personal trainer to help him. But despite the workouts, his leg pain got worse making it hard for him even to walk from the car to the grocery store entrance. He and the trainer suspected something else was wrong and he sought the advice of his doctor.

Soon his doctor’s tests revealed the true cause: blockages in the blood vessels of his legs. In fact, the arteries going to his lower extremities were nearly 100 percent blocked. The cause? Years of heavy smoking and high-fat meals, and other factors had caused cholesterol, scar tissue and blood clots to build up inside his blood vessels.

Most people think this kind of clogged artery disease, or arteriosclerosis, only happens in the heart. But as Dow’s case shows, it can happen throughout the body. When it does, it’s called peripheral arterial disease, or PAD.

And in some people, PAD causes leg pain that acts as an ‘early warning’ that someone is at high risk for a heart attack or a stroke, says a University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center expert.

“This is the hallmark of a disease that’s all over,” says James Stanley, M.D., a director of the U-M CVC and the vascular surgeon who operated on Dow. “It’s like gray hair you don’t just get it on one side of your head. So if you’ve got this kind of blockage in your leg, you’re going to have it other places.”

In fact, nearly a quarter of people who have leg pain due to PAD will be dead in five years, mostly due to heart attacks and other heart problems, Stanley says. For people like Dow, whose leg pain kept them from walking even short distances, the odds are even worse: as many as half will die by five years.

Fortunately, Dow got diagnosed and treated before that happened to him. Stanley performed a bypass operation to open his blocked leg arteries, similar to the bypasses that heart patients have. A recent checkup showed he’s doing well.

“For sure, it’s a wake-up call,” says Dow, who has quit smoking and changed his eating habits. “You know that old saying, ‘Where there’s smoke, there’s fire’? I’m sure that I not only have the vascular issues in my lower extremities, but I’m sure I have them in other parts of my body.”

Dow isn’t alone, says Stanley, who has operated on thousands of patients with severe PAD in his decades as a professor of vascular surgery at the U-M Medical School. Nearly 30 million people in the United States have some form of PAD, though the vast majority are “silent” cases that don’t cause symptoms. Among people over age 70, nearly one person in five has PAD.

Who’s most at risk for PAD? People over 50, smokers, people with diabetes, people with high blood pressure, people with high cholesterol, and people who are overweight or obese, Stanley explains. In other words, it’s the same group of individuals who have a high risk of heart attack and stroke.

Preventing peripheral arterial disease

The advice for preventing PAD, or stopping it before it gets serious, is largely the same as the advice for preventing a heart attack or stroke: Quit smoking, eat healthier, get more exercise, control your blood sugar if you have diabetes, lose weight, and get your blood pressure and cholesterol levels checked. And ask your doctor if you should take a daily aspirin to prevent clots, or drugs to reduce your blood pressure and cholesterol.

Even though PAD makes people’s legs hurt or feel tired when they walk or exercise a symptom that doctors call ‘”claudication” which feels like a “Charlie horse” type cramp one of the best things to do is to walk more, says Stanley.

“The more a patient walks, the more likely it is that they will develop little ‘detour’ blood vessels, called ‘collateral’ vessels, around the obstruction,” he explains. The large majority of people can develop these vessels that will ease the pain.

But in some people, PAD has already gotten bad enough to cause pain or numbness even when the person is sleeping something called “rest pain.” Stanley says this pain often awakens patients from sleep. It most often occurs in the ball of the feet and may feel like someone has wrapped a bandage around the foot. This level of symptoms is ominous, he says, because it indicates a more severe blockage without adequate collateral vessels.

Another sign of severe PAD is the development of painful sores, or ulcers, on the feet and toes. These occur because the blood flow to the lower leg isn’t enough to feed the tissue, and it begins to break down. People with diabetes, whose bodies have an especially hard time healing such ulcers, are most at risk. Left untreated, skin ulcers can get worse and even turn into gangrene often leading to amputation.

The vast majority of PAD cases are nowhere near this serious. But people who don’t get help for symptoms when they first start may find their problem becoming much worse over time.

So, Stanley recommends that anyone who has discomfort in their leg or legs, especially new pain that lasts more than a week, should talk to a doctor. She or he might perform a Doppler examination a painless, non-invasive ultrasound test that detects blood pressure in the extremity.

The Doppler test can tell whether someone has PAD and how bad the blockage might be. Depending on the result, the doctor might recommend an MRA (magnetic resonance arteriogram) of the leg, or a conventional arteriogram that involves injecting dye into the leg arteries through a device called a catheter.

If a severe blockage is found, like in Dow’s case, there are several options. Two are similar to those for heart patients: a minimally invasive procedure like an angioplasty that opens blockages with a tiny balloon, or bypass surgery to place a new graft to carry blood into the blocked area.

There are also promising new options on the horizon, to help the body grow new blood vessels in the blocked area. The U-M CVC the first place in the world where patients with severe PAD can volunteer for an experimental new gene-therapy treatment called MultiGeneAngio.

The MultiGeneAngio trial takes cells from a vein in the patient’s arm, adds in new genes that encourage the growth of blood vessels, and then injects the cells into the blocked artery using a minimally invasive technique. Right now, it’s still being tested for safety and to find the right dose of cells, says Michael Grossman, M.D., the U-M interventional cardiologist who is leading the study at U-M. But if the study proves successful it may one day become a new treatment option for patients.

Until that day, the best weapon against PAD is better knowledge of the fact that pain in the legs is more than an inconvenience. “If one has PAD there are two issues,” says Stanley. “What happens to your leg, and what happens to your life.”

What is peripheral arterial disease (PAD)?

  • Peripheral arterial disease, or PAD, is sometimes called peripheral vascular disease. Both names describe the blocking of blood vessels in the peripheral parts of the body, away from the heart.
  • The blockages are caused by the buildup of cholesterol, scar tissue and blood clots within the blood vessel – the same thing that happens in the blood vessels that feed the heart.
  • PAD interferes with the flow of blood to the legs and feet, which can cause pain or numbness in the legs. When the pain occurs while a person is walking or exercising, it’s called claudication. When it occurs as a person is sleeping, it’s called rest pain.
  • Similar blockages in the heart or brain may cause a heart attack or stroke.
  • People with PAD, especially PAD that causes pain, have a much higher than normal risk of having a heart attack or stroke. PAD is considered a warning sign for more serious, life-threatening problems.
  • PAD is more likely to develop in people who have an inherited (genetic) tendency to develop blocked arteries, and in people over age 50. It’s also much more common in people who smoke, people who have have diabetes, high levels of blood fat (for example, cholesterol) and high blood pressure, and in people who are overweight. African-Americans appear to have a higher risk than other groups.
  • PAD can be diagnosed using an ultrasound test.
  • People who have PAD should quit smoking if they haven’t already done so.
  • PAD can be treated using exercise, dietary changes, good blood-sugar control, and medications to reduce blood pressure and cholesterol. Severe cases are treated with minimally invasive procedures or surgery.

Leg pain

Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Jan 1, 2020.

Definition

Leg pain can be constant or intermittent, develop suddenly or gradually, and affect your entire leg or a localized area, such as your shin or your knee. It can take a number of forms — stabbing, sharp, dull, aching or tingling.

Some leg pain is simply annoying, but more-severe leg pain can affect your ability to walk or to bear weight on your leg.

Causes

Most leg pain results from wear and tear, overuse, or injuries in joints or bones or in muscles, ligaments, tendons or other soft tissues. Some types of leg pain can be traced to problems in your lower spine. Leg pain can also be caused by blood clots, varicose veins or poor circulation.

Some common causes of leg pain include:

  • Achilles tendinitis
  • Achilles tendon rupture
  • ACL injury (tearing of the anterior cruciate ligament in your knee)
  • Ankylosing spondylitis
  • Baker’s cyst
  • Bone cancer
  • Broken leg
  • Bursitis (joint inflammation)
  • Chronic exertional compartment syndrome
  • Claudication
  • Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
  • Gout (arthritis related to excess uric acid)
  • Growing pains
  • Growth plate fractures
  • Hamstring injury
  • Herniated disk
  • Infection
  • Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (formerly known as juvenile rheumatoid arthritis)
  • Knee bursitis (inflammation of fluid-filled sacs in the knee joint)
  • Legg-Calve-Perthes disease
  • Meralgia paresthetica
  • Muscle cramp
  • Muscle strain
  • Night leg cramps
  • Osgood-Schlatter disease
  • Osteoarthritis (disease causing the breakdown of joints)
  • Osteochondritis dissecans
  • Osteomyelitis (a bone infection)
  • Paget’s disease of bone
  • Patellar tendinitis
  • Patellofemoral pain syndrome
  • Peripheral artery disease
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Posterior cruciate ligament injury
  • Pseudogout
  • Psoriatic arthritis
  • Reactive arthritis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis (inflammatory joint disease)
  • Sacroiliitis
  • Sciatica
  • Septic arthritis
  • Shin splints
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Sprains
  • Stress fractures
  • Tendinitis
  • Thrombophlebitis (a blood clot that usually occurs in the leg)
  • Torn meniscus
  • Varicose veins

When to see a doctor

Call for immediate medical help or go to an emergency room if you:

  • Have a leg injury with a deep cut or exposed bone or tendon
  • Are unable to walk or put weight on your leg
  • Have pain, swelling, redness or warmth in your calf
  • Hear a popping or grinding sound at the time of a leg injury

See your doctor as soon as possible if you have:

  • Signs of infection, such as redness, warmth or tenderness, or you have a fever greater than100 F (37.8 C)
  • A leg that is swollen, pale or unusually cool
  • Calf pain, particularly after prolonged sitting, such as on a long car trip or plane ride
  • Swelling in both legs along with breathing problems
  • Any serious leg symptoms that develop for no apparent reason

Schedule an office visit if:

  • You have pain during or after walking
  • You have swelling in both legs
  • Your pain gets worse
  • Your symptoms don’t improve after a few days of home treatment
  • You have painful varicose veins

Self-care

Minor leg pain often responds well to home treatments. To relieve mild pain and swelling:

  • Stay off your leg as much as possible
  • Apply an ice pack or a bag of frozen peas to the affected area for 15 to 20 minutes three times a day
  • Elevate your leg whenever you sit or lie down
  • Try over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) or naproxen sodium (Aleve)

What is leg pain?

Leg pain can be described as any feeling of pain or discomfort in the area between your groin and ankle.

Depending on the cause, leg pain can vary from moderate to severe, and the symptoms may be continuous (non-stop) or intermittent (come and go).

Leg pain can be acute, meaning it comes on quickly and then goes away. Or it can last for weeks or months. Then it is called chronic leg pain. For some people, chronic leg pain can last for years and can affect their lives.

What symptoms are related to leg pain?

Leg pain can affect just a small area of the leg, or it can cover a wide area or even the whole leg. The pain can be dull or sharp, or it might be burning, tingly or numb. You might also have pain in your buttock, lower back or spine, or foot. Make a note if both legs look the same, or if one is different from the other.

Other signs and symptoms that can occur with leg pain include:

  • swelling
  • varicose veins
  • sores or ulcers
  • redness, swelling or warmth
  • feeling generally unwell, if you have an infection or fracture
  • changes in the colour of the leg or feet if it’s a problem with your nerves
  • a slow healing wound

CHECK YOUR SYMPTOMS — Use our leg pain Symptom Checker and find out if you need to seek medical help.

What causes leg pain?

There are many different causes of pain in the leg. They include:

  • a cramp
  • a minor injury such as a knock, bump or bruise
  • a fracture
  • an infection
  • pain from wear and tear, overuse, or injuries in joints or bones or in muscles
  • pain from using your leg too much, such as muscle strains and soreness
  • pain from using your leg too little, such as pins and needles or muscle stiffness
  • pain from infection, such as ulcers and infected blisters
  • pain from problems with blood vessels, such as blood clots and poor circulation
  • pain coming from your back, such as sciatica and nerve pain
  • pain from problems with nerves, such as the pain of diabetic nerve troubles
  • growing pains (in children)

Pain in the leg can also be a part of chronic conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and gout.

How is leg pain treated?

Treatment for leg pain depends on the cause. It can often be treated at home, but if pain is sudden, severe, or persistent, or if there are other symptoms, medical attention may be necessary.

If you suddenly develop pain from an injury, use the RICE method:

  • Rest: avoid putting weight on your leg where possible.
  • Ice: put an icepack on the sore area for 20 minutes at a time, using a covered icepack or bag of frozen peas. Repeat every 2 to 3 hours for 2 to 3 days.
  • Compression: use compresses and bandages.
  • Elevation: keep it up when you’re resting.

You can take simple painkillers like paracetamol or anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen.

If you have muscle cramps, gently stretching the muscles should help. This is true for many other types of leg pain, too.

If you have pins and needles, just moving around should ease the discomfort.

If the pain doesn’t go away, your doctor might involve a physiotherapist, podiatrist or other health professional, depending on the cause. You might need medication such as antibiotics or anti-inflammatories, and some people may need surgery.

When should I see a doctor?

Sometimes, leg pain can signal something more serious like a fracture, deep vein thrombosis or compartment syndrome.

Seek medical attention urgently if:

  • the leg is swollen
  • it looks deformed or you can’t use it properly
  • it is unusually cool or pale
  • it is numb and weak
  • it is red and warm
  • both legs are swollen and you have breathing problems
  • the pain is getting worse

See your doctor as soon as possible if you have signs of infection, like a fever, calf pain after going on a long journey, or any serious symptoms that come on with no explanation.

Can leg pain be prevented?

You can prevent strains and injuries by always warming up before exercise and cooling down and stretching afterwards. Build up physical activity gradually and don’t take on too much too quickly.

It’s a good idea to replace worn out shoes and wear appropriate footwear for the activity you’re doing.

Looking after your health generally — getting enough sleep, drinking enough water, getting some regular exercise, not smoking, being a healthy weight — might also help.

31 Tips For How To Get Rid Of Leg Pain

If you’re wondering about how to get rid of leg pain, there are ways to find relief, and fast. These may include at-home remedies like simple exercises or more interventional treatment options like epidural steroid injections.

How to get rid of leg pain: the basics

Depending on the cause of your leg pain, you may be able to get rid of leg pain by:

  • Practicing low-impact exercises and stretches that can help relieve tension in the muscles
  • Making small changes to your diet to include more anti-inflammatory foods
  • Ensuring you stay hydrated to reduce leg cramps
  • Trying out leg pain supplements if you’re lacking certain nutrients in your body
  • Using biofeedback therapy to help you better notice and control your leg pain
  • Taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for acute cases
  • Talking to your doctor about leg injections or other interventional options for more chronic types of leg pain

We’ll be talking about each of these in more detail. If you’re wondering how to get rid of leg pain, there are proven ways of doing so. And there’s help. From home remedies to tailored pain therapies, you don’t have to continue to suffer with leg pain.

What causes leg pain?

Leg pain is any sort of pain or discomfort that affects the upper leg, knee, or lower leg. Acute leg pain is generally caused by an illness or injury and will go away with treatment. Minor leg pain will often stop after rest and home care while other acute conditions, such as breaks, will heal after a cast or surgery. Chronic leg pain lasts more than three months. Generally, chronic pain requires a different type of treatment such as drugs, steroid injections, or physical therapy.

Because leg pain is so broad a category, it can be caused by a number of conditions or situations. Leg pain is common in individuals who play sports or it can occur after a traffic accident. Degenerative conditions such as osteoarthritis or osteoporosis can cause pain in the lower extremities as well. Conditions affecting the spine can also lead to leg pain such as sciatica leg pain. Some circulatory conditions can also cause pain in the legs like peripheral artery disease and deep vein thrombosis.

Leg pain caused by musculoskeletal issues includes:

  • Leg cramps
  • Muscle strains or sprains
  • Fractures
  • Shin splints
  • Arthritis, commonly experienced as osteoarthritis
  • Hamstring injuries
  • Myalgia
  • Compartment syndrome
  • Osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer

Leg pain that is associated with damage or irritation within the nervous system includes:

  • Sciatica
  • Peripheral neuropathy, including diabetic peripheral neuropathy
  • Shingles
  • Post-laminectomy syndrome, or failed back surgery syndrome

E-Medicine Health has more information about the anatomy of the leg and how that can cause leg pain. When considering how to get rid of leg pain, it’s best to understand what’s causing your pain. You can talk to a pain doctor to learn more about these different conditions, or to find a diagnosis.

How to get rid of leg pain, fast

Treating leg pain fast requires knowing what’s causing your leg pain. The treatment for leg pain will depend entirely on the core cause. For example, many of the acute causes of leg pain can be treated with at-home care. This includes rest foremost, but also hot and cold therapy, compression, and the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. For minor sprains and strains, this is often all that is required to treat the pain effectively.

While more serious, or chronic, forms of leg pain require more intensive treatments, this at-home care model can be used to complement treatments in order to help speed along healing, minimize pain, and improve range of motion and quality of life. Chief among these are dietary changes. Obviously eating healthy and avoiding foods that can exacerbate pain (such as greasy or salty foods) helps, but another more targeted approach can be the use of supplements for treating leg pain.

Pain caused by osteoarthritis may be alleviated with therapy, exercise, or certain medications. If you are experiencing leg pain, you need to consult with your pain doctor to determine the underlying cause and the correct treatments. Keep in mind that some conditions that cause leg pain can be extremely critical and need medical attention immediately. However, others may just be able to be treated with home remedies or over-the-counter medications such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

Once cleared by your pain doctor, the following tips for how to get rid of leg pain can help you get on with your life, with less pain.

Home remedies to get rid of leg pain

1. Get started with exercise

The benefits of regular exercise have been discussed over and over. For those who suffer from chronic leg pain, there are even more potential benefits, making it one of the best answers for how to get rid of leg pain. Stronger muscles act as a support system for the rest of the body, so stronger leg muscles mean that the bones and joints of the leg are better protected. Physical activity also builds up and helps maintain bone density, making broken bones less likely. Low-impact exercises can also help strengthen the legs and lessen pain in the region provided they are done safety and first approved by your doctor.

Additionally, exercise causes the release of endorphins, which can help block pain, improve mood, and reduce anxiety, stress, and depression. When leg pain is a result of inflammatory conditions like arthritis, exercise can even reduce the number of inflammatory compounds in the body. This can reduce the inflammation that causes leg pain.

2. Find the right shoes

The most basic piece of exercise equipment is the shoe. An ill-fitting or poor-quality shoe can contribute to existing leg pain conditions, as well as create new ones. Therefore, when exercise is being used to manage leg pain, it’s particularly important to have good shoes. A physician, physical therapist, or reputable shoe salesperson should be able to recommend a good pair of shoes. Orthotic inserts can also be beneficial, if your current shoes aren’t cutting it.

Conditions that can be created or worsened by sub-par shoes include:

  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Heel spurs
  • Ingrown toenails
  • Bunions
  • Neuroma
  • Stress fracture
  • Sprained or broken ankles

A shoe that’s too tight across the toes can cause ingrown toenails, bunions, or neuroma. A lack of arch support or shock absorbency can contribute to neuroma, plantar fasciitis, heel spurs, and stress fractures. A shoe that fully supports the foot will help prevent rolled ankles, which can cause sprains or breaks.

While a condition like an ingrown toenail or broken ankle will most definitely heal with proper medical attention, the extended period of inactivity required to heal can be detrimental. Leg pain that was lessened by exercise might flare up again. Worse, if the exercise habit is broken, it might be difficult to start again. If you’re trying to get rid of leg pain, start where the heel hits the road.

3. Ease into exercise

Starting an exercise regimen too quickly can do more harm than good. When an individual is excited to start a new workout, it can be easy to do too much. If he or she hasn’t even gone on a long walk for a few years and then goes for a mile-long run, an injury is extremely possible. As stated by the American College of Sports Medicine:

“While most body tissues have the capacity to adapt and strengthen in response to increased loading, overuse injuries result when the increased loading occurs too quickly for the adaptation to take place.”

In other words, physical activity can strengthen bones and muscles, improve overall health, and lessen discomfort from leg pain, but if the exercise is too much, too fast, the body won’t be able to adjust. This is when injuries occur.

4. Practice safe, controlled stretches

NextAvenue.com recommends a short and easy set of leg pain stretches if you’re suffering from tired and achy legs. These stretches include:

  • Calf stretch
  • Quadriceps stretch
  • Hamstring stretch
  • Hip flexors stretch

WikiHow also demonstrates other leg pain stretches you can do if you’re learning how to get rid of leg pain.

5. Use pressure point therapy

This video from Keith Scott shows how to use pressure point therapy to work out leg spasms and knots.

6. Try low-impact swimming for sciatica leg pain or knee pain

Trying to figure out how to get rid of leg pain? Try swimming!

Because our bodies are more buoyant in the water, a swimming workout does not have a negative impact on the joints in our legs. The water also provides resistance for our muscles to work against. Swimming is beneficial to the body at all levels and even other water-based activities can be great for leg pain, such as water aerobics which is a much lower impact activity than regular aerobics.

This exercise is a great work out for patients with sciatica leg pain because it can remove the pressure that causes pain in the sciatic nerve. Swimming laps, water aerobics, and even water walking can help alleviate the pain from sciatica leg pain and provide exercise that strengthens the muscles of the legs. Since sciatica is ultimately a symptom of other conditions, such as a herniated disc, it is good to provide exercises that can alleviate the pain. Keep in mind that some strokes, such as the butterfly, can put strain on the muscles of the back and counter the good results of a swimming workout.

Knee pain, which is often caused by conditions such as osteoporosis or osteoarthritis, can also benefit from a water-based workout. In the water, the body is not subjected to the same forces of gravity that allows our own body weight to cause pain in the joints. Again, be sure to avoid strokes or kicks that put excess strain on the knees.

7. Find your inner om with yoga

Many people use yoga as a way to stay fit and increase their sense of well-being through meditation and relaxation. Yoga is essentially a choreographed series of movements meant to open your energy centers and stretch and strengthen the muscles in the body. Yoga is generally considered safe and it is easy for beginners to pick up the basics. However, it is important to make sure that you do the poses correctly to avoid any unnecessary strain on the body and prevent injury. While there are plenty of videos and mobile apps that can help with yoga it may be a good idea to start with a class where a teacher can instruct you in the correct form.

This kind of dedicated stretching workout can be great for osteoarthritis. Because yoga is low-impact by nature and does not involve any sudden movements it likely will not put pressure on already damaged joints. Yoga can also be modified to use in a variety of ways if someone has any physical limitations.

Like swimming, yoga can also be beneficial for relieving the pain of sciatica leg pain. Because this pain is caused by pressure being placed on the sciatic nerve, anything that can take the pressure off can provide pain relief. Seated or standing spinal twists can help alleviate this pain as well as poses that open the hips.

For more resources on yoga for pain check out Yoga International for sciatica relieving workouts. This eBook by Radha Yadav can also provide more details on how to use yoga for leg pain. Prevention Magazine also shares some insight on using yoga to help with a variety of aches and pains.

8. Get out for a walk

If you’re wondering how to get rid of leg pain, one of the easiest answers is to walk more! Incorporating just 30 minutes of walking into your routine everyday has a host of health benefits. Most importantly, it keeps your legs moving. Read more about all the benefits of walking.

9. Practice strength-training exercises

How to get rid of leg pain fast? Start with strength-training exercises to improve blood flow and muscle definition. HowHunter explains how this can help with leg pain at night:

“Strengthening the foot muscle helps reduce leg pain and it also reduces the occurrence of foot cramps. Try out exercises that train your toes as well as calf workouts which will ease the cramps and keep them away for the night. If you exercise appropriately and regularly.”

10. Stay hydrated

Staying hydrated is key for avoiding leg cramps. As WikiHow explains:

“If you are dehydrated or if your minerals are out of balance, then you may experience some muscle cramping. This is a common problem and you can often solve it by drinking more water and including drinks that contain electrolytes. Make sure that you are drinking at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day.”

11. Eat a balanced diet

If you need to know how to get rid of leg pain, sometimes it’s as easy as looking at your plate. The right diet can help reduce or prevent leg pain from many different causes.

When it comes to reducing leg cramps, especially, WikiHow also explains:

“Watch your diet. There are some studies have shown that low levels of nutrients such as potassium and calcium may stimulate muscle cramps. Be sure to eat enough of these nutrients in your diet, which may minimize how often you experience muscle cramps.“

12. Avoid foods that exacerbate leg pain from osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis leg pain can be increased due to inflammation in the joints. Therefore, foods that increase inflammation can trigger leg pain in patients with osteoarthritis.

These foods include:

  • Fried and processed foods
  • Sugars and refined carbohydrates
  • Alcohol and tobacco
  • Salt and other preservatives
  • Corn oil
  • Saturated fats

Finding alternatives to these foods is not difficult. Adding fresh fruits and vegetables to your diet as much as possible is a helpful start. Be sure to concentrate on dark green and orange vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, kale, sweet potatoes, and squash. These can provide the right nutrients to help curb the effects of osteoarthritis.

Whole grains are also important so order brown rice instead of white rice when you’re out. Oatmeal, popcorn, and whole wheat pasta are also good sources. Calcium rich foods like low fat or nonfat milk and yogurt can help provide additional nutrients that your body needs. Finally, make sure that your proteins come from lean sources. Chicken, beans, and seafood are a great place to start.

13. Check your beverages to reduce osteoporosis pain

How to get rid of leg pain? Look to your glass! We’ve been talking about small changes you can make to all your activities, but it’s because they work.

Consider osteoporosis in particular. Because osteoporosis is a condition that reduces bone mass and density, it is important to avoid foods that irritate this condition. If the bones in the leg continue to lose bone structure, it can result in leg pain or worse, a broken bone. Drinks that especially exacerbate osteorporosis pain are carbonated beverages or those containing caffeine.

Carbonated beverages contain phosphoric acid that can cause the body to lose calcium through urination. Popular sodas are also often consumed instead of calcium rich beverages like milk. Instead of that can of soda, pick up a glass of orange juice that has been fortified with calcium and vitamin D. Choose seltzers or club sodas without phosphoric acid if you really need that fizz. A fruit smoothie or even chocolate milk can be healthier than a carbonated soda.

So many adults in the U.S. rely on caffeine to get us through the day but this can have long-term consequences. Caffeine also leaches calcium from our system. Coffee and sodas or energy drinks with added caffeine contribute to this loss of bone mass. Tea, even though it contains some caffeine, doesn’t seem to have the same effect. Start slow by trading in fully caffeinated coffee with half decaffeinated coffee before making the switch to entirely decaffeinated. Rooibos tea, also called red tea, from South Africa has absolutely no caffeine and a satisfying earthy vanilla flavor. Or, order a decaffeinated latte from your local coffee shop, which will allow you to skip the caffeine but add some milk to your day.

14. Figure out how to reduce your leg pain at night

Dr. Sanaz Majd explains that too many people are affected by leg pain at night. One of the best tips for how to get rid of leg pain, especially leg pain at night, is to determine if your leg pain is due to restless leg syndrome or nutritional deficiencies.

Read our trips for diagnosing, managing, and treating restless leg syndrome here. If it’s a nutritional deficiency, read on.

15. Take magnesium or potassium supplements to prevent leg cramps

Muscle cramps in the legs affect many people–as many as 60% of adults. These can be caused by over-exertion, but they can also be caused by nutritional deficiencies. While most of us may experience leg cramps from time to time, up to 20% of people experience chronic forms of leg cramps. For how to get rid of leg pain due to cramps, often home remedies can be really useful.

If leg cramps are affecting your sleep quality, consider adding supplements in a pill form or in the foods you eat in order to help prevent future cramps. Those supplements that are most effective include:

  • Potassium: When people lack potassium, an electrolyte, it can lead to muscle cramps. Incorporate more potassium rich foods into your diet, such as winter squash, sweet potatoes, white beans, halibut, or broccoli. WebMD provides a list of the foods with the most potassium on their website. To get the most potassium out of your vegetables, avoid boiling them and instead eat them raw, roasted, or lightly steamed.
  • Magnesium: Another electrolyte that can help prevent muscle cramps, magnesium, is largely ignored for its health benefits. In addition to preventing leg cramps, incorporating the right amount of magnesium into your diet could help cut your risk for heart attack and diabetes! The best way to get more magnesium into your diet is through food. Focus on dark leafy greens like kale, nuts and seeds, fish, soybeans, and avocados.

16. Consider supplements to relieve osteoarthritis pain

The most recommended supplement for improving osteoarthritis is glucosamine sulfate. On his website, Dr. Andrew Weil notes that:

“Glucosamine sulfate provides the joints with the building blocks they need to help repair the natural wear on cartilage caused by everyday activities. Specifically, glucosamine sulfate provides the raw material needed by the body to manufacture a mucopolysaccharide (called glycosaminoglycan) found in cartilage. Supplemental sources are derived from shellfish. Taken in supplement form, glucosamine may help improve the maintenance of healthy cartilage with an enhanced deposition of glycosaminoglycan.”

Chondroitin is another supplement commonly taken with glucosamine that can also stimulate the growth of new cartilage components. In addition to these supplements, Dr. Weil recommends eating foods that can reduce tissue damage from inflammation. These include oily fish, such as salmon, ginger, turmeric, and organically grown fruits and vegetables.

17. Try out capsaicin if you suffer from sciatica leg pain

Many treatments rely on rest, hot and cold therapy, and physical therapy to reduce the pain associated with sciatica. However, capsaicin skin patches may be another treatment option for this neuropathic condition.

Derived from chili peppers, capsaicin binds itself to the nociceptors in the skin, which excite the neurons. This creates increased sensory sensitivity to itching, pricking, or burning. This is then followed by a period of reduced sensitivity. With the right amount of use, you can achieve persistent desensitization to pain in the affected area. Evidence has provided strong support for the effectiveness of capsicum over placebo in controlled trials for patients suffering from sciatica leg pain.

18. Try an Epsom salt soak

While there’s conflicting evidence on Epsom salt baths, many have found that they help get rid of leg pain. Whether it’s the relaxing warm bath or the salts themselves, we’re not sure! But, there may be some reasons epsom salts seem to work. Dr. Axe explains:

“High in magnesium and sulfates, they are easily absorbed through the skin to provide quick relief and reduce inflammation. Add two cups of salts to warm bathwater and soak for at least twenty minutes.”

19. Or, try a cold compress

Depending on the source of your leg pain, cold compresses may help to reduce inflammation. This is especially true for soreness after exercise. Top10 Home Remedies explains the best way to create one for yourself.

20. Practice the RICE method

How to get rid of leg pain after an injury? Use the classic RICE method, as explained by WikiHow: Rest, Ice, Compress, and Elevate.

21. Get a massage

Don’t have to tell us twice! Many claim massage can help break up sore muscles and reduce pain. Over at HomeRemediesCare.com, they advocate for the use of primrose or lavender oil during the massage to boost the pain-relieving benefits.

10 more treatments for leg pain

If these home remedies don’t help with your leg pain, talk to your pain doctor about how to get rid of leg pain. Your pain doctor may recommend any of the following treatment options. Click the links below to learn more about each of your options.

  1. Taking a course of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications
  2. Trying muscle relaxants for chronic and severe leg spasms
  3. Undergoing physical therapy to retrain your muscles
  4. Learning biofeedback therapy to help you relearn and manage pain signals
  5. Getting acupuncture to relieve leg pain
  6. Undergoing an epidural steroid injection procedure
  7. Getting a sciatic nerve block for sciatica leg pain
  8. Trying radiofrequency ablation to reduce your leg pain
  9. Doing lysis of adhesions therapy for leg pain due to a failed back surgery
  10. Surgery, in chronic and severe cases that haven’t responded to other therapies

Reach out to a pain doctor today if you’re interested in trying any of these leg pain treatments. They’ll be able to discuss these treatments in more depth and can figure out which ones would be most appropriate for your pain.

Learn more about leg pain:

Leg Pain 101

Low Impact Exercises For Hip, Knee, And Leg Pain Sufferers

How To Treat Painful Leg Spasms With Muscle Relaxants

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An 85-year-old with muscle pain

An 85-year-old man with hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and coronary artery disease presented to our clinic with diffuse muscle pain. The pain had been present for about 3 months, but it had become noticeably worse over the past few weeks.

He was not aware of any trauma. He described the muscle pain as dull and particularly severe in his lower extremities (his thighs and calves). The pain did not limit his daily activities, nor did physical exertion or the time of day have any effect on the level of the pain.

His medications at that time included metoprolol, aspirin, hydrochlorothiazide, simvastatin, and a daily multivitamin.

He was not in acute distress. On neurologic and musculoskeletal examinations, all deep-tendon reflexes were intact, with no tenderness to palpation of the upper and lower extremities. No abnormalities were noted on the joint examination. He had full range of motion, with 5/5 muscle strength in the upper and lower extremities bilaterally and normal muscle tone. He was able to walk with ease. Results of initial laboratory testing, including creatine kinase and erythrocyte sedimentation rate, were normal.

1. What should be the next best step in the evaluation of this patient’s muscle pain?

  • Order tests for cyclic citrullinated peptide (CCP) antibody and rheumatoid factor
  • Advise him to refrain from physical activity until his symptoms resolve
  • Take a more detailed history, including a review of medications and supplements
  • Recommend a trial of a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID)
  • Send him for radiographic imaging

Since his muscle pain has persisted for several months without improvement, a more detailed history should be taken, including a review of current medications and supplements.

Testing CCP antibody and rheumatoid factor would be useful if rheumatoid arthritis were suspected, but in the absence of demonstrable arthritis on examination, these tests would have low specificity even if the results were positive.

An NSAID may temporarily alleviate his pain, but it will not help establish a diagnosis. And in elderly patients, NSAIDs are not without complications and so should be prescribed only in appropriate situations.

Imaging would be appropriate at this point only if there was clinical suspicion of a specific disease. However, our patient has no focal deficits, and the suspicion of fracture or malignancy is low.

The medical history should include asking about current drug regimens, recent medication changes, and the use of herbal supplements, since polypharmacy is common in elderly patients with multiple comorbidities.

On further questioning, our patient said that his dose of simvastatin had been increased from 40 mg daily to 80 mg daily about 1 month before his symptoms appeared. He was taking a daily multivitamin but was not using herbal supplements or other over-the-counter products. He did not recall any constitutional symptoms before the onset of his current symptoms, and he had never had similar muscle pain in the past.

2. Based on the additional information from the history, what is the most likely cause of his muscle pain?

  • Limited myositis secondary to recent viral infection
  • Rhabdomyolysis
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Drug-drug interaction
  • Statin-induced myalgia

Our patient’s history provided nothing to suggest viral myositis. Hypothyroidism should always be considered in patients with myalgia, but this is not likely in our patient, as he does not display other characteristics, such as diminished reflexes, hypotonia, cold intolerance, and mood instability. Even though calcium channel blockers have been known to cause myalgia in patients on statins, a drug-drug reaction is not likely, as he had not started taking a calcium channel blocker before his symptoms began. This patient did not show signs or symptoms of rhabdomyolysis, a type of myopathy in which necrosis of the muscle tissue occurs, generally causing profound weakness and pain.1

Therefore, statin-induced myopathy is the most likely cause of his diffuse muscle pain, particularly since his simvastatin had been increased 1 month before the onset of symptoms.

3. What should be the next step in his management?

  • Decrease the dose of simvastatin to the last known dose he was able to tolerate
  • Continue simvastatin at the same dose and then monitor
  • Switch to another statin
  • Add coenzyme Q10
  • Stop simvastatin

Decreasing the statin dosage to the last well-tolerated dose would not be appropriate in a patient with myopathy, as the symptoms would probably not improve.2–4 Also, one should not switch to a different statin while a patient is experiencing symptoms. Rather, the statin should be stopped for at least 6 weeks or until the symptoms have fully resolved.1

Adding coenzyme Q10 is another option, especially in a patient with previously diagnosed coronary artery disease,5 when continued statin therapy is thought necessary to reduce the likelihood of repeat coronary events.

We discontinued his simvastatin. Followup 3 weeks later in the outpatient clinic showed that his symptoms were slowly improving. The symptoms had resolved completely 4 months later.

Common Types of Pain in the Elderly

Across the United States, millions of Americans silently endure debilitating pain from day to day with much of this population being elderly citizens. In recent studies, over 76 million Americans reported experiencing some sort of pain associated with aging.

The most common types of pain experienced are the hip and back pain. Approximately 15 percent of Americans over the age of 65 report experiencing pain from hip related issues. A staggering statistic of two-thirds of the American population has reported back pain. However, 37 percent of those people indicated no help was sought.

Because there is a prominent misconception pain associated with aging is normal, many seniors dismiss persistent hip and back pain. In reality, ignoring consistent pain especially in the back, neck and hip areas can result in a major disruption of a person’s quality of life.

Lower Back Pain

Although all ages of adults will most likely encounter back pain at one point or another, those over the age of 60 are more inclined to develop back pain due to a range of factors. Causes of lower back pain can be revealed through understanding the range of different symptoms.

One of the most common causes of lower back pain is arthritis. Arthritis, especially osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, can cause pronounced stiffness in the lower back during morning and evening hours, localized pain, pain aggravated by prolonged activity, sleep interruption from pain and loss of flexibility at the waist. Arthritis is a degenerative disease gradually developing over time by the breakdown of cartilage between joints resulting in painful bone on bone contact. Arthritis symptoms tend to begin as sporadic discomfort then proceed to emerge as a serious condition.

Pain manifesting as leg pain while standing or walking can indicate degeneration of the spinal joints. Additional symptoms of spinal joint degeneration include decreased walking endurance, immediate pain relief after resting, a variation of pain levels from none to severe, numbness or tingling feelings traveling from the lower back through the buttocks into the legs. Many times these types of symptoms indicate nerve damage located in the spine. Standing and walking are triggers for the pain due to pressure from activity being placed on the ends of the damaged nerves.

Spinal pain

Unlike arthritis or the degeneration of the spinal nerves, back pain can be overt as sudden onset pain indicating a spinal compression fracture may be at fault. Those suffering from a spinal compression fracture commonly experience sudden onset pain, pain relief from lying down, limited spinal flexibility, and worsening of pain while walking or standing. Although the name “spinal compression fracture” may imply a serious accident occurred for one to develop a fracture; however, a spinal compression fracture is one of the most frequent causes of sudden onset pain in people over the age of 50. Many times those who experience spinal compression fractures also manage a type of spinal arthritis, which weakens the spinal joints overall. Arthritis occurring in the spine increases one’s risks for spinal fractures caused by minor catalysts, such as small pressure resulting from a sneeze.

Hip Pain

Because the function of the back and the function of the hip are closely dependent, back pain can also be an indicator of medical issues related to the hip and vice versa. Similar to back pain, hip-related pain is more commonly caused by inflammation due to another medical condition such as arthritis or strain of the hip muscles. Symptoms of hip discomfort are frequently reported as a pain felt in the thighs, hip joint, the groin, the buttocks, or pain traveling through the back and radiating to the hip.

Being a degenerative disease, arthritis can affect any cartilage in the body, most commonly impacting the hips, knees, and back. Almost identical to arthritis in the back, arthritis occurring in the hip causes stiffness, dull joint pain localized in the hips, and swollen hip joints with decreased range of motion. Discomfort caused by arthritis typically begins slowly with mild pain then develops into disruptive pain.

Bursitis

Similarly to arthritis, hip discomfort may be a result of bursitis. Bursa is a fluid-filled sac located inside the hip joint designed to limit friction by cushioning the bones and tendons. Bursitis occurs when one or more of the bursa is inflamed causing pain and can affect any bursa located on all major body joints. According to recent studies, 10 to 20 percent of those experiencing hip discomfort are experiencing bursitis.

Commonly, pain from this type of condition is localized on the inside and on the outside areas of the hip. However, discomfort can also travel through the thigh ending in the knee resulting in interruption of sleep, interruption of the ability to lie down, and increased pain from daily activities.

Nerve Pain

A discomfort felt in the hip can also indicate another medical issue originating in another part of the body. Typically, inflammation of nerve endings in the back can result in pain radiating in the hip and leg. The inflammation of the sciatic nerve located at the bottom of the spine is one of the most frequent causes of hip pain.

Additional symptoms indicating irritation of the sciatic nerve includes weakness or tingling in the leg, increased pain from bending at the waist, increased pain from coughing, sitting, sneezing or other minor pressure. Discomfort developed by the inflammation of the sciatic nerve can manifest in sudden onset pain and can continue for multiple weeks. Because further serious medical conditions can emerge, the identification and management of sciatic nerve issues are important. Resulting from age, spinal joints are more susceptible to injury caused by minor pressure. Weakened disks from sciatic nerve pain and aging can become herniated disks.

Those who suffer from painful inflammation in the back and hip due to muscle strain can seek safe over the counter anti-inflammatory medication, which typically relieves discomfort quickly and effectively. Arthritis based pain can be resolved through low impact exercising designed to reduce pain and increase joint range of motion.

Unfortunately, if the pain in the back and hip is resulting from nerve damages or pressure on spinal nerves, consultation with a medical physician is strongly recommended. Although damaged spinal nerves can be serious, surgery is not always required. A range of medical and non-medical treatments is available and should be discussed with a trusted medical doctor.

In all scenarios where hip and back discomfort occur, the appropriate medications, rest, heat and ice are the first go-to solutions for immediate relief. If the pain persists and exceeds normal daily levels of discomfort, seek medical advice as soon as possible to prevent small issues from developing into serious conditions.

Leg pain can be due to a muscle cramp (also called a charley horse). Common causes of cramps include:

  • Dehydration or low amounts of potassium, sodium, calcium, or magnesium in the blood
  • Medicines (such as diuretics and statins)
  • Muscle fatigue or strain from overuse, too much exercise, or holding a muscle in the same position for a long time

An injury can also cause leg pain from:

  • A torn or overstretched muscle (strain)
  • Hairline crack in the bone (stress fracture)
  • Inflamed tendon (tendinitis)
  • Shin splints (pain in the front of the leg from overuse)

Other common causes of leg pain include:

  • Peripheral artery disease (PAD), which causes a problem with blood flow in the legs (this type of pain, called claudication, is generally felt when exercising or walking and is relieved by rest)
  • Blood clot (deep vein thrombosis) from long-term bed rest
  • Infection of the bone (osteomyelitis) or skin and soft tissue (cellulitis)
  • Inflammation of the leg joints caused by arthritis or gout
  • Nerve damage common to people with diabetes, smokers, and alcoholics
  • Varicose veins

Less common causes include:

  • Cancerous bone tumors (osteosarcoma, Ewing sarcoma)
  • Legg-Calve-Perthes disease: Poor blood flow to the hip that may stop or slow the normal growth of the leg
  • Noncancerous (benign) tumors or cysts of the femur or tibia (osteoid osteoma)
  • Sciatic nerve pain (radiating pain down the leg) caused by a slipped disk in the back
  • Slipped capital femoral epiphysis: Most often seen in boys and overweight children between ages 11 and 15

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