What is leg pain?

Leg pain is any type of pain or discomfort in the leg, from the hip joint to the heels. Leg pain is a fairly common complaint. Your legs are made up of joints, muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves and blood vessels all of which are subject to injury, infection or other conditions that can cause leg pain.

Leg pain may last briefly or be constant, and affect your entire leg or only a particular area. Your pain may feel achy, piercing or tingling. Pain-like sensations often described as pins-and-needles, prickling, or burning sensations are called paresthesias. Leg pain may be simply irritating and uncomfortable, or so debilitating that you cannot put weight on your leg or walk.

Leg pain can arise from a variety of conditions ranging from accidental trauma to nerve conditions. In the absence of trauma or other symptoms, leg pain is commonly caused by a muscle cramp, also called a “charley horse.” In some cases, leg pain can originate in another part of the body such as the back. This type of leg pain is called referred leg pain. If you are experiencing other symptoms along with your leg pain, be sure to tell your health care provider. This information will help your doctor determine a diagnosis.

Leg pain may also be a symptom of deep vein thrombosis (blood clot in the leg), which is a serious and life-threatening condition. The blood clot in the leg can break loose and cause a pulmonary embolism in the lung, a heart attack, or even stroke.  Seek immediate emergency medical care if you are experiencing leg pain after mild exercise or exertion, or if you are experiencing pain, swelling, redness, and warmth in the calf.

Leg pain that originates in the lumbar area and travels down the buttocks, accompanied by loss of bladder or bowel control, is a sign of a pinched nerve. This serious condition should be evaluated as soon as possible in an emergency medical setting. If your leg pain is persistent or causes you concern, contact a medical professional.

SYMPTOMS

What other symptoms might occur with leg pain?

Other symptoms may occur with leg pain depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. If you have a fever, your leg pain is likely due to infection or inflammation. Leg pain due to arthritis may occur with stiffness and reduced range of motion. You may also experience ankle or hip pain.

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CAUSES

What causes leg pain?

Infectious diseases, blood circulation problems, and neurological conditions can affect the leg. However, most leg pain is due to overuse, injury, and age-related wear and tear on the muscles, bones, joints, tendons and ligaments of the leg, including the hip, knee and ankle. Usually these conditions are not serious, and you can largely prevent and treat overuse and injury problems with self-ca... Read more about leg paincauses

Medical Reviewer: Cynthia Haines, MD Last Annual Review Date: Aug 5, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

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