Causes of Leg Pain

Leg pain has many causes but is most commonly caused by a physical injury or other musculoskeletal disorder of the leg. Other causes include nerve disorders, circulatory disease, and various leg infections.

Specific Leg Regions: The term “leg pain” is usually used for particular types of leg pain affecting the whole leg or the larger areas of the leg, but more specific causes may be considered, such as:

Other Leg Regions: For completeness, there are other areas of the legthat may have pain:

Other Nearby Regions: Sometimes leg pain may be related to pain in nearby regions of the anatomy:

  • Hip pain
  • Groin pain
  • Buttock pain
  • Spine pain

Most of the discussion below does not address these more specific types of pain in particular parts of the leg, nor in the other nearby regions, but focuses on leg pain in general.

Physical Leg Injury: Numerous types of injury may cause physical pain affecting the leg, or a region of the leg, such as:

  • Leg injury
  • Leg bruising
  • Sprain
  • Shin splints (shin pain)
  • Muscle strain
  • Muscle injury
  • Ligament injury (torn ligament)
  • Soft tissue injury
  • Leg fracture
  • Thigh fracture (femur fracture)
  • Lower leg fracture
  • Meniscus injury (torn meniscus)
  • Hip injury
  • Coccyx injury
  • Spinal vertebra injury
  • Physical abuse (Child abuse; Elder abuse)

Local Pain or Skin Pain: If there is pain (or swelling) in a small area on the leg, such as on the skin or just under the skin, it may be a disorder of the skin or subcutaneous tissues, rather than a broader disorder of the leg. Examples include:

Leg Muscle Disorders: A disorder of the muscles may result in painful leg muscles.

Leg Tingling or Nerve Pain Sensations: Some disorders affecting the nerves can cause pain-like sensations in the legs or thigh, such as nerve pain, shooting pains, tingling, burning sensations, pins-and-needles, partial numbness, and other types of paresthesias. Example nerve disorder causes of leg pain-like sensations include:

Read more about: Leg paresthesias, Leg numbness, Leg tingling.

Blood Vessel and Circulation Disorders: Pain in the leg can arise from various disorders of the blood vessels, such as:

Bone Disorders: In addition to fractures, other possible bone conditions causing leg pain include:

  • Fractures
  • Bone infection
  • Osteomyelitis
  • Osteomalacia
  • Bone tumor
  • Bone cancer
  • Osteoid osteoma
  • Leg arthritis (knee arthritis; ankle arthritis)
  • Hip arthritis

Other Causes: There are various other possible causes of leg pain, such as:

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Note: This site is for informational purposes only and is not medical advice. See your doctor or other qualified medical professional for all your medical needs.