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 (chronic venous disease, venous insufficiency).
Chronic venous disease 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 chronic venous disease. 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 chronic venous disease.
Wearing knee-high compression stockings may be worth a try to ease discomfort associated with fluid buildup in the legs. Ask your doctor for a recommendation.
Oct. 25, 2017
- Alguire PC, et al. Clinical manifestations of lower extremity chronic venous disease. http://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed Oct. 1, 2017.
- Cifu DX, et al., eds. Vascular diseases. In: Braddom's Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Elsevier; 2016. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Oct. 1, 2017.
- Alguire PC, et al. Overview and management of lower extremity chronic venous disease. http://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed Oct. 1, 2017.