Leg pain or leg cramps are common obstacles that usually go away with rest and a warm soak. Your legs take the brunt of your weight, supporting your posture and helping you move, and it can be debilitating if they don’t work as well as they should. Leg pain that persists or gets worse can be a sign of something serious. Below are six conditions that can cause leg pain.
Peripheral artery disease
Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is a condition in which the body’s blood vessels get narrow due to blockage, causing poor circulation to leg muscles. Without ample blood supply, the legs get fatigued faster and cause cramping or pain. According to the American Heart Association, “The most common symptoms of PAD involving the lower extremities are cramping, pain or tiredness in the leg or hip muscles while walking or climbing stairs.” Talk to your doctor and request to get an ankle-brachial index test, which compares blood pressure between your ankle and your arm, if you suspect you might have PAD.
When you exercise on a hot day, experiencing heat cramps are quite common, especially if you don’t keep yourself hydrated. According to MedicineNet, an online medical publishing company, “Heat cramps are the intermittent, involuntary spasm of muscles that occur in an individual who is physically active (for example, working or exercising) in hot or humid weather.” Heat cramps stop with rest in a cool place and gentle stretching of the affected leg. Be sure to drink enough water during your workout to replace lost moisture and electrolytes and reduce leg pain.
Peripheral neuropathy is a condition in which your peripheral nerves are damaged by sugar, causing weakness or a stabbing pain in your hands, feet, and legs. According to the NIH, “High blood glucose, also called blood sugar, and high levels of fats, such as triglycerides, in the blood from diabetes can damage your nerves and the small blood vessels that nourish your nerves.” One of the most common causes of peripheral neuropathy is diabetes, so see a doctor if you have tingling or pain in your legs, hands, or feet.
Osteoarthritis is a type of arthritis that affects the cartilage of bones, causing them to erode and inflict pain and stiffness in joints. It can cause leg pain as well if it develops in your neck or lower back. According to Merck Manual, an online medical manual, “Osteoarthritis in the neck or lower back can cause numbness, pain, and weakness in an arm or leg if the overgrowth of bone presses on nerves.”
Overuse during exercise
If you exercise for long periods of time and overuse your legs, or change up your workout routine abruptly, your muscles will become strained and cause pain that can linger. According to the UK’s National Health Service, “Sore muscles after physical activity, known as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), can occur when you start a new exercise program, change your exercise routine, or increase the duration or intensity of your regular workout.” Stretch your legs gently after overuse, massage them, and rest them after a harsh workout.