Leg pain can be constant or intermittent, develop suddenly or gradually, and affect your entire leg or a localized area, such as your shin or your knee. It can also take a number of forms — stabbing, sharp, dull, aching or tingling. Some leg pain is simply annoying, but more-severe leg pain can affect your ability to walk or to put weight on your leg.
Call for immediate medical help or go to the emergency room if you:
- Have a leg injury with a deep cut or exposed bone or tendon
- Are unable to walk or put weight on your leg
- Have pain, swelling, redness or warmth in your calf
- Hear a popping or grinding sound at the time of a leg injury
See your doctor as soon as possible if you have:
- Signs of infection, such as redness, warmth or tenderness, or you have a fever greater than100 F (37.8 C)
- A leg that is swollen, pale or unusually cool
- Calf pain, particularly after prolonged sitting (such as a long car trip or plane ride)
- Swelling in both legs along with breathing problems
- Any serious leg symptoms that develop for no apparent reason
Schedule an office visit if:
- You have pain during or after walking
- You have swelling in both legs
- Your pain gets worse
- Your symptoms don't improve after a few days of home treatment
- You have painful varicose veins
Minor leg pain often responds well to home treatments. To relieve mild pain and swelling:
- Stay off your leg as much as possible
- Apply an ice pack or bag of frozen peas to the affected area for 15 to 20 minutes three times a day
- Elevate your leg whenever you sit or lie down
- Try over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB) or naproxen (Aleve)
Apr. 06, 2013
- Kinirons M, et al. French's Index of Differential Diagnosis: An A-Z.15th ed. London, England: Hodder Arnold; 2011:349.
- Seller RH. Differential Diagnosis of Common Complaints. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:269.
- Knee and leg. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/menus/leg.cfm. Accessed Jan. 25, 2013.
- Firestein GS, et al. Kelley's Textbook of Rheumatology. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2013. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/208746819-6/0/1807/0.html. Accessed Jan. 25, 2013.
- Wilkinson JM (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Feb. 3, 2013.