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What’s Causing Your Leg Pain?

Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)

With this condition, your limbs -- typically your legs -- don’t get enough blood. It usually happens because your arteries have narrowed. Your legs may feel weak or numb or cramp when you walk. They might feel cold and be an odd colour. Some people can manage PAD with habit changes, like quitting smoking. If that doesn’t work, your doctor might give you medicine to treat the problem or help with pain. But some people need surgery.

Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)

This is a blood clot in a vein, usually in your thigh or lower leg. It doesn’t always cause symptoms, but you might have pain, swelling in your leg, and it might be warm and red. Call your doctor right away if you notice any of these. DVT can lead to a serious condition called a pulmonary embolism -- when the clot breaks off and goes to your lungs. Your doctor can give you medicine to keep clots from forming, growing, or breaking off.

Peripheral Neuropathy

This happens when there’s damage to the nerves in your body that relay messages to and from your brain. The most common cause is diabetes, but other health conditions, medicines, injuries, or infections can cause it. If it affects the nerves in your legs, they might feel prickly or tingly, or they might be numb or weak. Your doctor will treat the condition that’s causing it and give you medicine for pain if you need it.

Electrolyte Imbalance

Electrolytes are minerals like sodium, potassium, and calcium that help your muscles work the way they should. You lose some through sweat when you exercise, and if you lose too much, your legs can cramp or feel weak or numb. It can happen when you get some medical treatments, like chemotherapy, too. Sports drinks with electrolytes -- or water along with foods that have those minerals -- can help. See your doctor if you cramp up often.

Spinal Stenosis

This condition happens when the spaces within the bones in your spine get narrow. That puts pressure on the nerves in the area and can cause pain, tingling, numbness, or weakness in your legs. You also might have trouble with balance. See your doctor right away if you have any of these symptoms. Medication can ease the pain, and physical therapy can help, too. If these don’t work, you might need surgery.


This is leg pain that comes from a pinched nerve in your lower spine. It can range from a bad cramp to a strong shooting pain that makes it hard to stand or even sit. You might feel it because of a slipped or herniated disk, a slipped vertebra, a spasm of your butt muscles, or spinal stenosis. Your doctor might recommend over-the-counter pain meds or physical therapy. If you have a more serious case, you might need surgery.


This is a common condition that affects your joints and causes pain, swelling, and stiffness. When it happens in your hips, knees, or ankles, it can be hard to walk or do other everyday activities. There’s no cure, but it can help to exercise and stay at a healthy weight. Heating pads or ice packs on the aching joints can ease pain and swelling. So can over-the-counter pain relievers.

Pulled Muscle

This is when a muscle gets stretched too far. It happens a lot to people who play sports. The pain is intense and starts right away, and the area is tender to the touch. The best treatment is to ice it with cold packs for 20 minutes at a time, several times a day. Outside of that, wrap the area lightly, keep it raised if you can, and rest it. Over-the-counter pain relievers can ease the ache.


This injury happens when the tissue that connects a bone to a bone, called a ligament, is stretched or torn. Ankle sprains are common. The injured area swells and hurts, and you can’t put weight on it. The best way to treat it is the R.I.C.E. method -- rest, ice (about 20 minutes a few times a day), compression (wrap it in a bandage), and elevation (prop it up). See your doctor so she can take an X-ray and check for broken bones.

Muscle Cramp

This is when a muscle, usually in your calf, suddenly gets tight. It can bring on a sharp pain, and you may feel a hard lump of muscle under your skin. Cramps tend to happen more as you age, and you’re also likely to have them if you’re out in hot weather and don’t drink enough water. Cramps usually go away on their own and aren’t typically a sign of any health issue, but talk with your doctor if you have them often.

Shin Splints

These happen when the muscles and tissues around your shinbone get inflamed, making the inner edge of the bone hurt. They’re common