Leg pain – causes, treatment

Leg pain

Leg pain can have a variety of causes – from harmless ones like sore muscles to illnesses that can end in death. Diagnosis and treatment of leg pain depends on the cause of the leg pain.

What is leg pain?

Leg pain is to be distinguished from foot pain or hip pain by common definition . So they affect what lies between the foot and the hip. Leg pain can therefore occur in the thighs and lower legs. They can affect muscles, tendons, connective tissue, blood vessels or bones.

The knee joint in particular is a sensitive part of the leg. If damage or injuries occur here, the entire leg is usually affected. Damage in the tendons and joints can lead to leg pain.

At the top of the leg it is the hip joint and at the bottom the ankle that can cause similar problems. Radiating or localized leg pain must first be researched into its causes.


There are many possible causes of leg pain . Muscles, ligaments, tendons, nerves, joints and blood vessels can lead to leg pain via blunt or bleeding injuries. Joint problems in particular can cause radiating pain.

Whether you notice this at rest or when moving is different. Fractures and poor circulation can also contribute to leg pain. Leg pain can be stabbing, pulsating and hot, local or radiating. With leg pain, the mobility of the leg is often restricted. One may also suffer from numbness , swelling or lumps.

Fractures, strains , joint problems, sore muscles and circulatory disorders lead to frequent pain. It becomes dangerous when a blood clot causes leg pain. A deadly embolism can develop here. The doctor must be consulted immediately with such leg pain.

Herniated discs , tendonitis , wear and tear, osteoporosis , tumors or rheumatism , varicose veins or joint inflammation also cause leg pain.

diseases with this symptom

Diagnosis & History

Diagnosis and course differ significantly depending on the determined cause of the leg pain. The treatment and convalescence period can range from one day to several months. In some cases, leg pain is due to a tumor or thrombus and can be fatal if left untreated.

For diagnostic purposes, you first go to your family doctor , unless you already suspect a specific cause of the pain. Already known signs of wear and tear, bone diseases or joint damage can also have led to acute or chronic leg pain.

For diagnostic purposes or further treatment, the doctor can refer you to a specialist. X-rays , blood tests , neurological and ultrasound examinations , angiograms, mirroring or joint punctures may then be used. However, leg pain can sometimes be difficult to diagnose.


The complications of leg pain can be very varied. Regardless of the intensity or type of occurrence, the causes of leg pain should be investigated. Leg pain may subside and then come back weeks or months later. The pain intensity can be the same or changed, stronger or weaker. If the pain does not subside at all over a long period of time, this is referred to as a chronic pain condition. Experts then speak of an independent clinical picture.

Another course is characterized by sensory disturbances in the form of tingling and numbness. Muscle weakness or signs of paralysis on the foot or in the toe area can also occur. This suggests that the leg veins are involved due to a specific condition.

It is not uncommon for vein failure, phlebitis, thrombosis or ulceration to occur. In the case of phlebitis, the inflamed inner wall of the vein can cause a blood clot, which can lead to vascular occlusion. A distinction is made between thrombophlebitis and varicophlebitis or varicothrombosis. Phlebothrombosis can also occur, especially in women. Severe complications include flaccid paralysis and paraesthesia in both legs, as well as numbness in the anal area and inner thighs (breeches anesthesia). Likewise, a disturbance of the bladder, bowel and sexual function.

Other complications could include:

  • a corona phlebectatica from spider veins on the ankle
  • a “white atrophy” (damage to the small skin vessels in the ankle area)
  • a varicose leg ulcer (leg ulcer) or – venosum (leg ulcer)
  • lipodermatofibrosis due to chronic venous failure
  • a variceal bleeding (injury of the varicose vein)

In the worst case, chronic venous insufficiency (postthrombotic syndrome) can occur. This is chronic venous failure.

When should you go to the doctor?

Leg pain can have different causes and is often harmless. However, patients should go to the doctor if the pain in their legs is long-lasting, very severe or associated with other symptoms. A serious medical condition may be present when leg pain occurs along with swelling of the joints in the leg. This is especially the case when the joints are heated.

Since an inflammatory disease can be present here, the problem must be presented to the family doctor as soon as possible. If the leg pain occurs immediately after an accident or injury, this is also an indication to see a doctor. In this case, the first point of contact is the family doctor , who will refer the patient to a specialist if necessary.

If you experience leg pain with a feeling of heaviness, heat, swelling or hardening in one leg, it could be a thrombosis. Since this is a life-threatening disease, a doctor should be consulted immediately in this case. If varicose veins can already be seen or if a vein disease is known, an examination by a phlebologist should take place. He can also test the leg for circulatory problems.

If it is calf pain that occurs when walking and improves when standing, it could be arteriosclerosis, which if left untreated can lead to a heart attack. Therefore, a visit to a family doctor is strongly recommended.

Treatment & Therapy

Treatment for leg pain depends on the cause. Magnesium , rest and time help with sore muscles , warmth and pain-relieving therapies with rheumatism. Leg pain from fractures must be medically sedated or operated on, as often do injuries or joint damage.

In other cases, however, moderate exercise therapy helps against the pain. So-called phantom pains are also known , which cannot be treated. The limb causing the leg pain has already been amputated. Circulatory disorders can be treated with exercise therapy and medication, but also with changes in diet.

Sometimes operations on joints of the leg are necessary. Vein-related pain can be treated with support stockings or sclerotherapy. If one leg is shorter, the shoe can be orthopedically adjusted. Painkillers or cortisone can be used as a supplement for various types of leg pain.

Otherwise , physiotherapy , bath therapy, orthopedic walking aids, heat treatments , muscle training or rest are the tried and tested remedies for leg pain.

Outlook & Forecast

Leg pain does not necessarily have to lead to a medical complication and can occur with certain activities or when the legs are overloaded. In these cases, leg pain is relatively common and will subside over time when the legs are allowed to rest.

If the leg pain lasts longer and does not go away on its own, a doctor should be consulted. In this case, the leg pain may be related to another problem. Leg pain is also very common in diabetes and is an indication of this disease. In the case of persistent pain, which also occurs without physical activity, a doctor should always be consulted.

If the leg pain is not treated, inflammation and cramps can develop in the muscles . This usually leads to even more severe pain, which still needs to be treated surgically. If the load is too high, the legs need to rest and the muscles relax. If the legs do not get this rest, the leg pain will also increase and may lead to further complications.

The exact course of the disease depends heavily on the physical condition of the person affected.


There is often not much you can do to prevent leg pain. But good shoes, healthy seating or moderate exercise do a lot. A lot of exercise can help prevent breakage and wear and tear. Restraints are usually rather harmful.

If you are sporty, you usually take less damage in accidents and can put weight on your leg more quickly after leg pain. He recovers faster after surgeries. For some paralyzed people, leg pain is a real blessing, because if you can feel your legs, you can expect improvement.

You can do that yourself

In the case of leg pain, it is only necessary to consult a doctor in a few cases, as a rule, this complaint disappears on its own and does not need to be treated separately. If you have leg pain, you should not put too much weight on the leg in question, or even better not put any weight on it at all. This includes, first and foremost, not doing sports. This allows the leg to recover and fight the problem itself, and the leg pain usually goes away after a few days or weeks.

If the leg pain always occurs with a certain movement or a certain sport, a doctor should be consulted to take a closer look at this movement. It may be the case here that the leg pain is a disease of the internal vessels, which must be treated differently.

If the leg pain occurs again and again, it can also be treated at home. Painkillers should not be taken here. An ointment or cream that is applied to the affected area is ideal. This cream soothes the leg at the site, cooling it and thereby relieving the pain. However, such a cream or ointment should not be used for too long a period of time. If the leg pain persists, consult your family doctor or an orthopedist .

Lisa Newlon
 | Website

Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.