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Leg pain

Contents of this page:


Lower leg muscles
Lower leg muscles
Leg pain (Osgood-Schlatter)
Leg pain (Osgood-Schlatter)
Shin splints
Shin splints
Varicose veins
Varicose veins
Retrocalcaneal bursitis
Retrocalcaneal bursitis

Alternative Names    Return to top

Pain - leg; Aches - leg; Cramps - leg

Definition    Return to top

Leg pain is a common symptom and complaint.

For more specific information, see:

Causes    Return to top

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

An injury can also cause leg pain from:

Other common causes of leg pain include:

Less common causes include:

Home Care    Return to top

If you have leg pain from cramps or overuse, take these steps first:

For leg pain caused by varicose veins, leg elevation and compression with elastic bandages or support hose can help.

For leg pain caused by nerve disorders or claudication, control diabetes, eliminate alcohol and tobacco, and avoid ill-fitting shoes.

When to Contact a Medical Professional    Return to top

Call your doctor if:

What to Expect at Your Office Visit    Return to top

Your health care provider will perform a physical examination, with careful attention to your legs, feet, thighs, hips, back, knees, and ankles.

To help diagnose the cause of the problem, your doctor will ask medical history questions, such as:

The following diagnostic tests may be performed:

Treatment depends on the cause. Medications may include pain medicines, anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), anticoagulants (blood thinners) such as Coumadin if there is a blood clot, and others. Cellulitis and osteomyelitis are each treated with antibiotics. Osteomyelitis will require extended use of antibiotics.

For some causes of leg pain, physical therapy may be recommended by your doctor. If you have a blocked artery, inserting a balloon catheter into the artery to improve blood flow may be advised.

Prevention    Return to top

To prevent claudication and nerve damage:

To prevent overuse injuries, like shin splints, muscle cramps, and other causes of leg pain:

References    Return to top

Wilder RP. Overuse injuries: tendinopathies, stress fractures, compartment syndrome, and shin splints. Clin Sports Med. 2004; 23(1): 55-81, vi.

Gutt CN. Prophylaxis and treatment of deep vein thrombosis in general surgery. Am J Surg. 2005; 189(1): 14-22.

Vinik AI. Diabetic neuropathies. Med Clin North Am. 2004; 88(4): 947-999, xi.

Armitage J. The safety of statins in clinical practice. Lancet. 2007 [June 6 e-pub].

Update Date: 7/17/2007

Updated by: Robert Hurd, MD, Professor of Endocrinology, Department of Biology, Xavier University, Cincinnati, OH, and physician in the Primary Care Clinic, Cincinnati Veterans Administration Medical Center, Cincinnati, Ohio. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.

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