What is causing pain in my left leg

Leg problems without the use of force

Discomfort in the leg can have many different causes and be acute or chronic. If symptoms suddenly appear, it is often simply an overload of the legs behind it, e.g. B. after sport or after unfamiliar movements. Nevertheless, severe pain should not be taken lightly, as it can also be a symptom of dangerous diseases such as a vein thrombosis or an acute herniated disc.

If, on the other hand, the pain has existed for a long time, one should think of chronic diseases. Vascular diseases are common, but these can often be recognized externally by swelling, discoloration, varicose veins or open areas. The spine can also be responsible for leg problems: constriction of nerves that pull from the spine towards the legs are often associated with paresthesia, lower back pain, numbness or paralysis of the feet.

The causes that are localized directly on the leg include diseases of the bones there (e.g. flat feet, osteoporosis), muscles or tendons.

In any case, if the symptoms persist, it is recommended to see a doctor in order to get to the bottom of the cause and treat it accordingly.

Symptoms, their causes, measures and self-help

  • Pulling calf pain one day after unusual muscle strain, e.g. B. in sports

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  • Drawing pains on the inner edge of the shin after unusual running loads

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  • Sudden, painful cramps in the calf muscles; often at night, when exercising, or in cold water; heaped up in the summer months

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  • Increasing calf and foot pain after walking or running for a long time

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  • Increasing foot, leg and / or buttock pain when walking and possibly lying down; pale skin, feeling cold and possibly numbness in the affected leg; possibly open spots on the foot or lower leg

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  • Pain, tingling, itching, or heaviness in the lower leg; Reinforcement through prolonged standing / sitting and heat, improvement through movement; mostly visible varicose veins or spider veins; often evening swelling of the foot and lower leg; possibly brownish or dark discoloration and / or open areas on the lower legs, ankles or toes

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  • Deep-seated tingling sensation and uncomfortable need to move in the legs; Reinforcement when sitting and lying down, in the evening and at night (sleep problems); Improvement through exercise

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  • Pain, burning, tingling sensation and / or numbness, usually in the shape of a stocking, on both lower legs and feet

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  • Pain and / or numbness in a ribbon-like shape on a leg and / or foot; mostly lower back pain; rarely paralysis

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  • Rapid development of a tenderness, reddened and overheated cord, mostly on the lower legs

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  • Rapidly increasing, painful redness and swelling of the leg with fever and chills

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  • Sudden feeling of tightness and tenderness in the calf or whole leg; Increase in the circumference of the affected leg; Pain when walking, cough; possibly bluish shiny skin

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  • Rapidly increasing pain, numbness and coldness in the leg; pale or bluish skin; possibly symptoms of paralysis

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  • Slowly increasing, unilateral, often painful swelling, often near the knee joint; possible thinning of the overlying skin; possibly fever, fatigue

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  • Usually unilateral, painless swelling (edema) slowly spreading from foot to leg; log-like appearance of the leg; often heaviness

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  • Painless swelling (edema) on both sides of the foot and lower leg; Weight gain

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  • Leg edema (leg swelling); unilaterally or one side affected much more than the other; with painful restricted mobility

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  • Leg edema (leg swelling); symmetrically pronounced; increasing over weeks

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Pulling calf pain one day after unusual muscle strain, e.g. B. in sports

Root cause:

Self help:

  • Sauna, baths with added rosemary or spruce needles
  • Loosening and stretching exercises

Drawing pains on the inner edge of the shin after unusual running loads

Root cause:

  • Shin splints

Self help:

  • Refrigeration applications. z. B. ice packs, cool packs
  • Reduce running training

Sudden, painful cramps in the calf muscles; often at night, when exercising, or in cold water; heaped up in the summer months

Root cause:

Leg cramp, for unknown cause or z. B. by

  • Unusually strong muscle tension
  • Lack of fluids or electrolytes, e.g. B. after profuse sweating, diarrhea
  • Pregnancy, lactation
  • Side effects of drugs such as lithium, laxatives or laxatives for weight loss, diuretics
  • Alcohol addiction

Measure:

  • In the next few days to the family doctor if calf cramps occur more frequently

Self help:

  • Grasp your toes and pull them towards your shin
  • Stomp on the floor or kick the wall with the sole of your foot
  • After the end of severe cramps, cool the calf for 1–2 hours
  • Ingesting magnesium

Increasing calf and foot pain after walking or running for a long time

Root cause:

Measure:

  • In the next few weeks to the orthopedic surgeon or family doctor if the symptoms also occur when wearing comfortable shoes

Increasing foot, leg and / or buttock pain when walking and possibly lying down; pale skin, feeling cold and possibly numbness in the affected leg; possibly open spots on the foot or lower leg

Root cause:

Activities:

  • Immediately to the family doctor or to the nearest clinic in the event of a sudden increase in pain, blue discoloration and coldness of the leg
  • The next day to the family doctor if there are bruises, open or black spots on the ankles or feet
  • In the next few days if the symptoms reappear

Self help:

  • Walking training, good shoes
  • Raising the headboard or lowering the footboard on the bed
  • Avoid smoking as much as possible

Pain, tingling, itching, or heaviness in the lower leg; Reinforcement through prolonged standing / sitting and heat, improvement through movement; mostly visible varicose veins or spider veins; often evening swelling of the foot and lower leg; possibly brownish or dark discoloration and / or open areas on the lower legs, ankles or toes

Causes:

Measure:

  • Go to the family doctor the same day if a leg suddenly increases in size, the symptoms recur or suddenly worsen

Self help:

  • Support stockings
  • Leg exercises, cycling, swimming, hiking
  • Often put your legs up, put the foot end of the bed up

Deep-seated tingling sensation and uncomfortable need to move in the legs; Reinforcement when sitting and lying down, in the evening and at night (sleep problems); Improvement through exercise

Root cause:

Restless legs syndrome (RLS), for no known reason or e.g. B. at

Measure:

  • If necessary, to the family doctor or neurologist

Self help:

  • Evening cycling, swimming, jogging, showering your legs, leg massages

Pain, burning, tingling sensation and / or numbness, usually in the shape of a stocking, on both lower legs and feet

Root cause:

Measure:

  • In the next few days to the family doctor or neurologist if the symptoms reappear

Pain and / or numbness in a ribbon-like shape on a leg and / or foot; mostly lower back pain; rarely paralysis

Root cause:

Diseases of the spine, e.g. B.

Activities:

  • On the same day to the orthopedic surgeon or family doctor in case of numbness or paralysis
  • In the next few weeks if pain persists for a long time

Self help:

  • Keep moving or look for a painless position
  • Applying heat to the pain region, e.g. B. Heating pads

Rapid development of a tenderness, reddened and overheated cord, mostly on the lower legs

Root cause:

Measure:

  • See your family doctor the next day at the latest

Self help:

  • Refrigeration applications, e.g. B. Ice pack
  • No bed rest, move legs

Rapidly increasing, painful redness and swelling of the leg with fever and chills

Root cause:

Bacterial inflammation in the skin and soft tissues, e.g. B. as

Measure:

  • Immediately to the family doctor or to the nearest clinic

Sudden feeling of tightness and tenderness in the calf or whole leg; Increase in the circumference of the affected leg; Pain when walking, cough; possibly bluish shiny skin

Root cause:

Activities:

  • Immediately to the family doctor or to the nearest clinic if a unilateral leg swelling is combined with newly emerging shortness of breath
  • Otherwise to the family doctor in the next few hours

Rapidly increasing pain, numbness and coldness in the leg; pale or bluish skin; possibly symptoms of paralysis

Root cause:

Measure:

  • Immediately to the family doctor or to the nearest clinic

Slowly increasing, unilateral, often painful swelling, often near the knee joint; possible thinning of the overlying skin; possibly fever, fatigue

Root cause:

Measure:

  • In the next few days to the family doctor or orthopedic surgeon

Usually unilateral, painless swelling (edema) slowly spreading from foot to leg; log-like appearance of the leg; often heaviness

Root cause:

  • Lymphedema, e.g. B. as a result of injuries, radiation, operations, infections or cancer

Measure:

  • In the next few weeks to the family doctor

Self help:

  • Avoid overheating (e.g. sunbathing, sauna)
  • Loose fitting footwear
  • Prevent minor injuries

Painless swelling (edema) on both sides of the foot and lower leg; Weight gain

Causes:

Measure:

  • In the next few days to the family doctor if the symptoms reappear

Leg edema (leg swelling); unilaterally or one side affected much more than the other; with painful restricted mobility

Causes:

Activities:

  • If there is a possible fresh thrombosis (further signs of thrombosis) due to the risk of pulmonary embolism, in the next few hours to the family doctor, at the weekend to the clinic
  • If the problem has existed for a long time, go to the family doctor in the next few days

Leg edema (leg swelling); symmetrically pronounced; increasing over weeks

Causes:

Measure:

  • In the next few days to the family doctor

Your pharmacy recommends

If leg problems are not only temporary, you should clarify the cause. This almost always requires a doctor's visit. Regardless, there are a few things you can do yourself:

Physical therapy.

The most important thing is to keep a close eye on your symptoms and to find out for yourself what kind of exercise is good for you. As a general rule: in most cases, gentle movement is better than complete rest, e.g. B. Swimming or easy cycling. In the case of sore muscles or overuse, light relaxation, stretching and gymnastics exercises alleviate the pain. Often massages and heat applications, saunas and relaxation baths are also helpful. If inflammation, swelling or edema is the cause of the leg discomfort, you should cool the affected areas, avoid tight clothing and keep your feet up.

Food supplements.

In the case of muscular causes for the leg problems, e.g. B. as a result of overuse or exercise, the intake of magnesium-containing food supplements helps.

Medical therapy.

In the case of leg problems, drug therapy has two goals: on the one hand, to alleviate the pain, on the other hand, to contain the usual inflammatory or tissue reactions. Non-prescription nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as diclofenac, paracetamol and ibuprofen are suitable. These are available in tablet form, but some are also available as ointments. Particular caution is required with acetylsalicylic acid (e.g. Aspirin®): As this also has anticoagulant properties, it must not be used in the case of internal and external bleeding or if an operation cannot be ruled out.

Caution: pain relievers mask underlying symptoms. There is therefore the risk of putting weight on the knee again too soon and risking injuries.

Sports gels.

Gels with menthol and salicylates cool and reduce swelling at the same time. Ointments and gels containing diclofenac relieve inflammation pain.

Herbal preparations.

These are available in gel and ointment form, but also as a tincture for rubs and poultices, e.g. B. with comfrey root extract (e.g. Kytta® Salbe f), arnica (e.g. Kneipp Arnika Salbe® S) or camphor (e.g. Camphoderm® N). They have a pain-relieving, decongestant and anti-inflammatory effect and are v. a. used for moderate pain. Many athletes swear by a preparation that is sold as a horse ointment and contains plant extracts such as arnica, rosemary, camphor and menthol.

Authors

Dr. med. Arne Schäffler; Dr. med. Brigitte Strasser-Vogel; in: Gesundheit heute, edited by Dr. med. Arne Schäffler. Trias, Stuttgart, 3rd edition (2014). Editorial processing: Christina Winzig | last changed on at 10:32


Important note: This article has been written according to scientific standards and has been checked by medical professionals. The information communicated in this article can in no way replace professional advice in your pharmacy. The content cannot and must not be used to make independent diagnoses or to start therapy.