What Your Leg Pain Really Means

leg painWhen it comes to leg pain it can occur for many different reasons, ranging in severity. Understanding the cause of your leg pain can help you treat and prevent future leg pains. Here are six common causes of leg pain to recognize.

6 Types of Leg Pain

Shin splints

Shin splints are felt in the front of the leg or knee and are most commonly caused by overuse. Shin splints are common among individuals who rapidly increase their exercise programs or start too intense, especially running. You need to gradually work your way up to reduce shin splint pain. Shin splints can be treated with rest, icing, and painkillers. If left untreated, it can result in a fracture.

Leg cramp


Sudden cramps in the legs that last for several seconds can be triggered by dehydration or overuse. Activities like walking too much may also trigger a leg cramp. Generally, cramps will subside on their own with stretching or applying heat. If a leg cramp is experienced deep within the muscle and is followed with swelling, this could be a sign of deep vein thrombosis (blood clot) which requires medical attention.

Knee pain

Knee pain that worsens with movement and is accompanied by swelling and redness can be a sign of bursitis. Resting, ice, and painkillers can help ease the pain. Ensure you are cushioning your knees when necessary, such as wearing knee pads for prolonged kneeling. If pain and swelling don’t subside, speak to your doctor as you may have a more serious injury. If pain is worse in the morning and improves throughout the day, you may have a type of arthritis that needs to be checked out.


Sciatica pain is experienced down the back of the leg, through the buttocks. This occurs when the sciatic nerve is compressed or pinched. Massage and exercise can help ease this pressure on the nerve.

Achilles tendon injury

Pain felt behind the ankle and above the heel is a result of an Achilles tendon injury. Wearing high heels and overuse can trigger this type of injury, especially in people with flat feet. Leaving this pain untreated can lead to serious injury and complications.

Thigh pain


Thigh pain is most common in professions where a heavy belt is worn, such as policing and construction workers. The pressure of the belt can cause pain that runs through the thigh.

If you experience prolonged leg pain, especially with swelling, that isn’t improving, then seek medical attention right away to reduce your risk of complications.

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Author Bio

Emily Lunardo studied medical sociology at York University with a strong focus on the social determinants of health and mental illness. She is a registered Zumba instructor, as well as a Canfit Pro trainer, who teaches fitness classes on a weekly basis. Emily practices healthy habits in her own life as well as helps others with their own personal health goals. Emily joined Bel Marra Health as a health writer in 2013.



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