Lately, I've had a lot of leg pain, especially when sitting at my desk or standing in line at the store. Should I be concerned about this new aching?
Answers from Sheldon G. Sheps, M.D.
New, persistent leg pain certainly warrants a visit to your doctor for evaluation. Leg pain can have many causes, but your description of aching after prolonged standing or sitting suggests a possible buildup of fluid in the leg veins (venous congestion).
Venous congestion occurs when the valves in your leg veins don't work properly to keep blood moving efficiently from your legs to your heart. Instead, blood pools in your legs and feet, causing pain and swelling. The pain is typically described as a burning or cramping sensation, mainly in the calf.
Past inflammation of a vein (phlebitis) may damage the valves and lead to venous congestion. Poor function of the valves in the leg veins also contributes to varicose veins — distended veins visible just beneath the skin. Varicose veins also may lead to venous congestion.
Wearing knee-high support hose may be worth a try to ease discomfort associated with fluid buildup in the legs. Ask your doctor for a recommendation.
Aug. 13, 2014
- Alguire PC, et al. Clinical manifestations of lower extremity chronic venous disease. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed July 23, 2014.
- Braddom RL, et al. Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. 4th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2011. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed July 23, 2014.
- Alguire PC, et al. Overview and management of lower extremity chronic venous disease. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed July 23, 2014.