7 causes of leg pain even when you are still and how to relieve it

Leg pain is a common reason for medical consultations worldwide. Legs can hurt after exercise as well as when resting. What is the cause of leg pain even at rest?

The legs are made up of various muscles, ligaments, tendons, nerves and blood vessels. It is an area that supports the body and enables movement. If you feel pain even when you are still, damage or influence of the anatomical structure may be the cause.

Circulation disorders, nerve compression, and varicose veins are common causes of lower extremity discomfort . Early diagnosis helps to gradually reduce symptoms.

Causes of leg pain even at rest

Pain may be localized or may spread to the entire limb . It begins with cramps or heavy leg sensations that increase in intensity. In addition, it is often accompanied by other symptoms that facilitate identification of the underlying disease.

1. Peripheral arterial disease

Impaired blood flow is the most common cause of leg pain at rest . In peripheral arterial disease, there is an imbalance between the blood supply and demand of the extremities. This condition is the result of narrowing of blood vessels by fatty plaques.

Patients with vascular disease experience spasms in the calves and ankles when walking, and in advanced cases, the pain worsens even when resting. Shows the following symptoms related to blood flow disorders:

  • numbness and weakness in the legs
  • Paleness and coolness of the skin
  • shiny and dry skin
  • yellow thick nails

Likewise, pain can appear at any time of the day and can even interfere with sleep. Studies have shown that this condition is common among people between the ages of 40 and 60, and the risk is six times higher in smokers.

If you have pain at rest from ischemia, it’s a good idea to get your feet off the bed or take a few steps indoors to temporarily relieve the discomfort. Medical treatments include the use of aspirin and clopidogrel and surgical revascularization.

taking aspirin for leg pain
If the reason your legs hurt even when you are still is an artery problem, you can take an aspirin.

2. Venous insufficiency

Venous insufficiency is a disease characterized by difficulty in the veins returning blood from the legs to the heart . Most of the vein dilatation leads to varicose veins and changes in skin color.

The pain is usually intense and intensifies with prolonged sitting or standing. You experience tingling, cramping, heaviness and swelling in your feet and ankles, and in chronic cases, the skin may thicken and ulcers form.

Some studies recommend lying down with your legs elevated for 30 minutes to improve venous return and relieve pain. Also avoid immobilizing the lower extremities or standing for long periods of time .

Conservative treatment includes the use of compression stockings and intravenous medications. Sclerotherapy and surgical approaches are options for advanced venous insufficiency.

3. The cause of leg pain even at rest: muscle problems

The largest and strongest leg muscles in the human body are under great stress when moving. Leg pain at rest is often the result of muscle tissue damage.

The pain is concentrated in one point in the leg and gets worse with movement . Strenuous physical activity causes soreness and swelling in the muscles, and the discomfort continues at night or for days after exercise.

Studies have shown (tenosynovitis, tendonitis , and myositis) that leg pain at rest can usually be relieved with cold compresses and anti-inflammatory medications. However, if the pain worsens or persists over time, you should seek professional treatment.

4. Sciatic Compression

Compression of the sciatic nerve causes pain, numbness, and tingling in the back, hips, and legs . In this sense, herniated discs, pelvic fractures, spinal stenosis and some tumors are common causes of this condition.

Pain varies in severity and usually radiates from the back across the thigh to the calf and sole. Also common is muscle weakness in one or both legs.

This includes applying the usual hot and cold compresses , avoiding heavy lifting, and resuming physical activity. Physical therapy and pain relievers can also relieve symptoms.

5. Joint problems

In some cases, leg pain at rest is the result of joint inflammation or arthritis. Discomfort is often accompanied by stiffness in the affected joint and difficulty walking. Osteoarthritis is the most common form and is associated with the wear and tear of cartilage due to aging.

Similarly, gout and rheumatoid arthritis are joint problems characterized by pain, swelling, and redness. Ongoing medical evaluation and timely treatment follow-up usually significantly improve quality of life.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen and cold compresses may help relieve pain. You should also avoid excessive physical exercise or holding your limbs in one position for too long . Physical therapy is essential for gradual recovery from the disease.

6. Bone Growth

Bone growth can cause discomfort in the legs of children and adolescents during development . It usually occurs in the thighs, calves, knees, or front of the legs and affects 20% of children aged 3 to 10 years.

Intermittent pain usually lasts 10 to 30 minutes in the afternoon and  recurs several weeks later. Applying a warm compress and massaging the gel or cream over the affected area can relieve discomfort.

Growing pains in the legs
Growing pains in children are normal and intermittent at some developmental stages.

7. Pregnancy

This is a common symptom in pregnant women . Elevated levels of estrogen and progesterone are the result of increased blood volume in pregnant women, similar to discomfort in patients with venous insufficiency.

On the other hand, when the uterus enlarges from the second trimester, the sciatic nerve is compressed and large blood vessels such as the vena cava are also affected, which can cause swelling and cramps in the lower extremities.

Doctors recommend stretching the spine and lying down with the lower extremities elevated. Pain and cramps go away a few days after delivery.

When should I seek treatment if my legs hurt even when I’m still?

Leg pain at rest can be caused by a number of conditions. A medical professional can determine the underlying cause and provide the most appropriate treatment. Early treatment also improves an individual’s prognosis and reduces long-term risk.

Seek immediate medical attention if the pain gets worse or if you develop other symptoms, such as fever, inability to walk, or a dark discoloration of your skin.

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