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Alternative namesPain - leg; Aches - leg; Cramps - leg
Leg pain is a common symptom and complaint. For more specific topics, see foot pain , hip pain , knee pain , muscle pain , joint pain , shin splints , and blockage of leg arteries .
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:
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.
Call your health care provider if
Call your doctor if:
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.
To prevent claudication and nerve damage:
To prevent overuse injuries, like shin splints, muscle cramps, and other causes of leg pain:
Update Date: 11/18/2003Jacqueline A. Hart, M.D., Department of Internal Medicine, Newton-Wellesley Hospital, Boston, Ma., and Senior Medical Editor, A.D.A.M., Inc. Previously reviewed by Steven Angelo, M.D., Assistant Professor of Medicine, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, CT. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network (10/31/2002).
Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT