When to see a doctor

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Call for medical help right away or go to an emergency room if you:

  • Have a leg injury with a deep cut or you can see bone or tendon.
  • Can't walk or put weight on your leg.
  • Have pain, swelling, redness or warmth in your lower leg.
  • Hear a popping or grinding sound at the time of a leg injury.

See your health care provider as soon as possible if you have:

  • Symptoms 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 cooler than usual.
  • Calf pain, especially after sitting for a long time, such as on a long car trip or plane ride.
  • Swelling in both legs along with breathing problems.
  • Any serious leg symptoms that start for no clear reason.

Make an appointment with your health care provider if:

  • You have pain during or after walking.
  • You have swelling in both legs.
  • Your pain gets worse.
  • Your symptoms don't get better after a few days of treating them at home.
  • You have painful varicose veins.


Minor leg pain often gets better with treatment at home. To help with mild pain and swelling:

  • Stay off your leg as much as possible. Then begin mild use and stretching as recommended by your health care provider.
  • Raise your leg whenever you sit or lie down.
  • Put an ice pack or a bag of frozen peas on the painful part for 15 to 20 minutes three times a day.

Try pain relievers you can buy without a prescription. Products you put on your skin, such as creams, patches and gels, may help. Some examples are products that include menthol, lidocaine or diclofenac sodium (Voltaren Arthritis Pain). You also can try oral pain relievers such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) or naproxen sodium (Aleve).

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April 25, 2023