General Question

Wilhelm's avatar

Random stabbing pains in my leg?

Asked by Wilhelm (61 points ) May 29th, 2008

Yeah, what the hell is this all about? I’m just sitting here or walking around and suddenly it feels like someone is stabbing me in my thigh with a knife. The pain is only momentary, but excruciating.

Any doctors in the house?

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45 Answers

marinelife's avatar

If you can edit your question, add to the topics. Try pain and medicine.

shilolo's avatar

Wilhelm, I can try to help, but I would advise you to see your doctor when you get a chance since this is certainly an area that would be helped by a physical exam.

Can you be a bit more descriptive? How long has this been going on? Did you have any “trauma”? Do some heavy lifting recently or a new activity? Is it in the front of your thigh, or the back (i.e. the hamstring)? Both legs or one? Do you also have some back or buttocks pain? Any weakness or numbness in your leg?

Wilhelm's avatar

Well, it’s been going on for the past few days. There doesn’t seem to be any pattern to it as it’s very sporadic; maybe 2 – 3 times a day for about 15 seconds. It’s on the top of my thigh. No more lifting that I usually do, no trauma or back pains. No numbness that I can think of

I thought it was bad circulation at first, but now I’m not so sure. This is a stabbing pain while bad circulation usually feels like a throbbing soreness.

Sucks either way. Might see a doctor if this keeps up.

shilolo's avatar

@Wil. I’m on my way to work, will give a longer answer when I get there, but most likely your symptoms are either due to a “pinched nerve” or a mononeuritis.

syz's avatar

I have a condition (I’ve completely forgotten the correct terminology, perhaps shilolo can help) that affects a nerve in my upper thigh. There is a nerve that becomes very superficial as it exits the groin area and is very susceptible to injury and irritation. In my case, it causes a sensation of hot, running water on my thigh and sometimes a crawly, itchy sensation. The area is now permanently numb to light touches (I feel pressure only).

I thought I was losing my mind or had a brain tumor until I was examined by a neurologist. :(

shilolo's avatar

@Wilhelm. So, there is the possibility that you strained a small portion of your thigh muscle, but this should resolve on its own. More likely, you have developed a neurologic condition that is either a pinched nerve or a peripheral neuropathy affecting a peripheral nerve. Take a look at this dermatome map of the leg, and see if you can identify a region where the pain is most prominent.

Now, if you read the peripheral neuropathy website I linked to, you’ll see that there are a large number of potential medical causes of nerve damage. This list shouldn’t scare you because identifiable causes tend to be rarer than so-called idiopathic (unidentifiable) peripheral neuropathy. That said, many can be evaluated and tested, so it is worth getting a thorough evaluation.

In terms of nerve entrapment, (which by the way may be syz’s condition, perhaps the obturator nerve?), if you identify the precise dermatome, you might be able to define which nerve is “trapped”.

All that said, I would like to stress the importance of seeing your doctor and/or a neurologist for a more definitive evaluation. Good luck.

Wilhelm's avatar

Wow, Shilolo. Thanks for the insight. I’ll def be seeing a doctor about this if it persists. Haven’t had it happen yet today, so we’ll see what happens. Great reads with those links you provided; learn something new everyday.

I did a little thinking about anything new I’ve been doing lately. I actually think I know what I can attribute these sudden pains in my leg to now.

Thanks! :)

shilolo's avatar

Now I’m curious! If you feel up for it, send me a PM about your “diagnosis”.

judochop's avatar

Pinched Nerve. Stretch your back out with some Yoga.

shilolo's avatar

FYI, while some “pinched nerves” occur as nerves exit the spinal canal (i.e. disc prolapse, a common cause of sciatica), many cases of pinched nerves occur peripherally, and thus, you could do all the back stretching in the world without effect.

jennywren's avatar

The first time this happened to me was about ten years ago I had an excruciating stabbing pain as if someone has stabbed me with a pin on the front of my left leg without any warning, at first I thought I had been stung by a wasp, it kept on happening totally out of the blue intermittently without any warning. I happened to go to visit my GP for an unrelated problem and mentioned it to him, he examined my leg and said it was an irritated nerve end. After a number of years the time between each incident became longer until eventually it unexpectedly stopped!
But I have over the last few months started experiencing it again this time on the side halfway down the upper part of my right leg! The pain is slightly different this time It again lasts about twenty seconds but it comes on slightly slower but the pain is so severe I am paralysed with the intensity of the pain and for that few seconds I have to press really hard to try to diffuse the pain, sometimes it happens about once a day and sometimes I can go through a few days without it happening.
I will mention it again to my new GP when I next visit and in the meantime I am just hoping it will calm down and eventually stop. So does anyone else think it has been diagnosed correctly as an irritated nerve or could it be something else?

valerie2's avatar

I am having the same problem…it started yesterday and is very random. I have had lower back pain on my left off and on before, but the shooting, uncomfortable pains are in my upper right leg. It definitely isn’t muscle, it feels like its in my bone. I haven’t done anything lately. Could I have a pinched nerve also?

Penster123's avatar

I have this same problem at the moment. I appear to get what i think is nerve pain all over my body, specifically in my back or legs; just lately though I keep getting severe shooting pains in the tops of my legs. I had a blood test to see if they could spot anything in my inflammatory levels but nothing showed. So i’m now waiting to go back to the GP. When the pains are really bad i can’t move. I have to just sit there and let it pass and i also can’t touch that area of skin. If anyone could help me i would really appreaciate it!

MrXmas's avatar

Wilhelm, any updates on this random shooting pain? I’ve had something similar in my left leg a few inches above the knee. I’ll just be standing or sitting and suddenly it feels like something has stabbed me from the inside. Usually the pain goes away after a few seconds or a minute.
I’ve wondered if perhaps I’ve hit the exercise equipment a little too hard, but I never felt any pain during exercise.
Please update the article and let me know if you found a solution to your condition or if it disappeared on its own.

Thanks
—MrXmas

NotGettingAnswers's avatar

What a relief!! I didn’t think I would find anyone who was experiencing the same problem.

I have random sharp stabbing pains in my left thigh. They are so terrible, they bring me to a stop at whatever I am doing. I get them in the outside, front, and inside of my left thigh. Many times, I also feel a coldness down the back of the thigh and a band of tightness in a circumference around the middle of the thigh.
I have seen 4 doctors, been prescribed ibuprofen and vicaden, and had 7 therapy sessions. None of it has helped. The last doctor was a bone and joint specialist who informed me that he could not make a determination. I am now being sent for a fitness capacity test to test the validity of my complaint because it is unfortunately the result of a fall I took while working.
I am in absolute disbelief that I could not get any answers or results from a doctor, but still suffering in pain.

Can anyone offer suggestions or answers

Vonchella's avatar

I have the same pain in my right thigh. It started about 2 months ago. It had gotten so bad, I went to the ER and the doctor diagnose me with neuropathy. He explained that this is something that is normal for a diabetic. They gave me Lyrica and that doesn’t work. So now I am on Percacets and they make me extremely sleepy. I really need some answers to on how to manage neuropathy. HELP!

lorien11's avatar

I was having similar stabbing pains. They were also happening in my arms and hands. These pains are not happening as often after I started a medication for an unrelated problem.

krystina's avatar

pinched nerve… so what about heat therapy…? I’ve been having these pains as well in my left upper inside thigh, I’ve been doing a lil more exercise then usual. I think I will try heat and see if it helps…

fzancolli's avatar

I too have been getting these stabbing pains in both thighs in the front. Very weird and scary.

maswerdlow's avatar

Did you ever find a solution? I have the same problem. I get very sharp sudden pain in my thigh at very random times. It last anywhere between 30 seconds to 5 minutes. It is not effected by activity and stretching the muscle does not help. It definitely feels like I am getting stabbed in the leg. Sometimes it happens several times a day, but usually it is weeks between incidents. It has been going on for several months. When it happened three times in one week, I finally went to a doctor. I had bloodwork done and an x-ray of my leg and hip.

ozdon1's avatar

upper rt thigh near groin. very sharp pain from 1 to 5 seconds. intermittent, may be sitting, lying down, walking. no pattern and can not make it happen with exercise, running etc. always happens while relaxing. worse than root canal without anastetic.maybe 4 or 5 times a day or maybe not for 3 days. doctor checked me and nothing found and doesn’t have a clue. good health, no injuries, operations,etc

dlafontaine13's avatar

I have the same stabbing pain in the front of my left leg. When I have it , it comes on very suddenly, and last only a few seconds, but it is excurciating. This has been going on for about 4 years now, and comes and go. Sometimes I will not have it happen for 6 months. When I have a episode, it will happen a few times a day for a few days, then it goes away, for a week, a month or maybe six months. I have not been able to get a answer from a Dr. as what causes it.

Serevaetse's avatar

When I read this, I instantly thought;
growing pains,
charlie horses,
or restless leg syndrome
You have a lot of answers, so you’ve probably already figured it out (I don’t know- I didn’t read any) but I hope they go away!!

Serevaetse's avatar

OH! or- shin splints. See about that. I get those often from walking too much

poohrific's avatar

I have had pain from the right side of my hip and there is a sharp pain that occurs and goes down to the mid part of my thigh. Its almost like a muscle spasm/stabbing pain but excruciating. When I went to the dr’s she said I had bursitis and I was on crutches and ibuprofen and pain meds, it went away but now its bad again. It hurts to move my leg in a certain way when the pain occurs. I guess I need to call the dr again.

maheshmlpn's avatar

I also have pain in left leg, upper thigh till the buttock. 2–3 months are already gone.

Doctors say it is hamstring tendonities…....
i have given IFT and ultrasone treatment for 10–15 days.. Pain is relieved but after some days it starts again.
Sometimes pain is too much.. usually in morning after sleep..
Stretching increases it i think….

Also please suggest if do i go to physio or ortho… And does it have any permanent solution….....
Help is needed….......I am really frustrated. I have to sit in office for most of time which again increases the pain

thesilverpearl01's avatar

I started getting the sensation of warm/hot water running from the top of my right inner thigh at my groin for a few inches. To be honest I thought I was “leaking” the first few times but there’s no moisture. Then I worried it could be a blood clot because I have depression and sometimes I’m not active for several days and then I become very active for several days. What I’ve read online negates that. I do have chronic lower back pain which I have researched and discovered that I have sacroiliac joint displacement syndrome. From what I understand this means one of the two joints (left or right) that connect the upper part of the body to the lower part of the body at the pelvis become displaced, usually from holding weight and twisting. (Why didn’t any of the doctors, physical therapists, and chiropractors tell me this? Is this common practice?) I know why it didn’t show up on xrays; because the space in the joints is so small you can’t tell they are out of alignment. Anyway, about 10 years ago a physical therapist finally showed me how to realign the joints but never told me what my condition was. Since I have had this problem for so long (19 years) I have learned to cope with a certain amount of pain, swelling, and nerve pain in my thighs and buttocks. But this warm water sensation is new and it’s worrying me. I hope it’s just linked to the nerves in my lower back. I’d appreciate anyone’s input on this. I’d really rather not venture to a new doctor unless I have to.

TinyTears's avatar

About 1:30 am today I was awakened by excruciating pain in my left,outside, thigh. The pain was like I had been stung by a bee or wasp. It lasted around 20 seconds or so. I almost cried out in pain because it hurt so much. Like a hot knife that kept jabbing my thigh. I have had two back operations in the last 6 years. The last one was a fusion. Since then I have had nerve trouble in my legs. I can’t sleep on either side, only on my back because my legs will pain so badly that I can’t stand it. This new pain is something entirely different though. Never experienced anything like it. Having birthed two babies the labor could not come up to this kind of stabbing, hot pain. I had another one about 45 minutes ago and that is why I started searching the WWW to try and find out what this is. I am so afraid of having another one but I guess I probably will according to what I have read on this sight. I will see my nerve doctor on March 7th. He takes care of me for an implanted morphine pump because of the failed back surgery. If anyone has any suggestions, please tell me. I am running scared. Thanks, Joanie

lampshade's avatar

sharp pain in back of left thigh. just started about a week ago. but happening almost daily. last 30 seconds to a minute. comes on sometimes without notice.I am 65 years old. but in fairly good health. but have been under a great deal of anxiety lately, and not sleeping well. just started taking calm pills from health food store for it [theanine serene calming complex with gaba] could this be a reason behind it?

nancypollockart's avatar

I began experiencing the same pain described here.
I bent down on my right knee & this shooting pain went into my outer thigh.
Intense hot sharp pain.
I changed my shoes & altered tennis shoes & dansko (i work on my feet) & got pads from the hardware store to cushion the floor – it has helped – but recently the pain is constant in the thigh – who should i see, MD; Ortho; Neuro???
thanks

cybersherrie's avatar

From my experience at the doctor’s and thru MRI’s.. although mind you, I am not a physician, on the sides and shooting down the leg and up the back are usually sciatic nerves. breathing exercise and stretching helps tremendously…when you have periodic attacks. Stress both physical and emotional can cause this. in the leg, can possibly be minor leg clots, they get stuck in small capillaries, the pain seems immense, because at that moment small cells are dying due to blood block and pressure on the blood vessel. taking aspirin will thin your blood and allow the clot to pass, however, if large enough can get stuck elsewhere, do consult your doctor about being put on an anticlot medication. the warm watery feeling, can either be your blood. it is 98 degrees, and when a very small vessel breaks, or flows again if clot moves, you can feel it on inner tissues or, just as when your arm goes to sleep, due to laying funny and the again the warm blood rushes back to the tissues and nerves you can feel the temp change, because the tissue started to cool down when you had circulation blocked off. This can be especially suspicious if you notice this intermittent and unexpected pain tends to target various body areas, then I would say most likely a floating blood clot. sometimes it will just, burst from a capillary, small bruising will occur and the vessel will heal and the clot will be absorbed. if it is continually in the side and hip radiating up or down through the leg then I would say sciatic. use the “lamas” breathing method..and bend slowly as far as you can front and back. Not only strain, or emotional stress, but a bad bed mattress can also irritate this nerve, and wrong pillow, bending the spine at the neck. In any event a very difficult thing for doctors to diagnose. my advice, take aspirin, do stretches, use the breathing technique when it happens, and change your mattress, or add a cushion to your desk chair, something could be irritating the nerve, and have a cholesterol check for clotting. is my advice from my personal experience with my doctor and treatments. Pain pills are not the answer. Many people get this…either condition. I know it is scary, I thought I was going to die, when I first had it happen. and I have had all the above, back, side and leg pains. and spent way too much money, for a simple diagnosis. Good Luck, and see what your doctor says.

Response moderated (Writing Standards)
saylo_0's avatar

I just had the pain again from the beginning of last month and today this is the fourth time. Just happened 10 minuets ago but this time it happened in my upper right leg behind in the muscle it always happens to me left leg behind muscle. before this time it happened to my left foot! damn i though that was the worst but never mind that today one was worse it lasted long about 25 seconds when usually its 5 or 10. this time i thought i was going to scream i always control it. 17 with this kind of thing happening for about 2 years now at least 5 times in A year but just past month till now already 4 times! my god i am worried i have no doctor no medical no insurance no nothing and no time.Its this sharp strong like someone is holding my inside meat so hard that it hurts and today i realized you can’t move your foot when it happens to your leg muscle it gets stuck so i thought it was a stuck muscle today. i am so confused i can’t move my leg right now its just laying like a dead .i think it’s a muscle that gets stuck, oh and it Always happens to me when i have just tried to stretch. Like mostly in the morning i stretch it happens i am late to school because i walk and now i walk even slower and the last time it happened was 2 weeks ago or a week i just wont even stretch that one leg but it happened to the other now! :( and i walk a lot like 4–6 miles 10–12 hrs in school work volunteering and pretty much all other things a adult would do. solutions please if i can fix myself?

kimodo's avatar

I just started to get this same pain.It happened while I was sleeping & woke me up. It then happened again 2 days later. Middle of my left front thigh .I told my mom that I thought my ex had a voodoo doll & was stabbing me with a pin.I have had no recent trauma , muscle strain,stress…Was embarrassed to call the doctor because I didn’t know how to explain it. The pain lasted maybe 5 seconds each time but hurt alot.

kcptaylors's avatar

I have been having shooting pains on my inner right thigh. It is random but very painful. I am unable to walk for a few minutes. I actually feel like I am going to fall as my knees buckle. Last night the pain was so bad I thought I was going to pass out. I got sweaty and nauseated and couldn’t walk. I finally moved my leg by lifting my pant leg up. Please help.

paulczar's avatar

I have been experiencing the same symptoms recently. I’m worried it may be associated with my smoking. I’m 26 and smoke about ½ pack per day, and am otherwise very healthy. I play sports, am in shape, good weight, etc…It started as a very sharp, sever pain in the lower back portion of my left calf. It was so bad that I grabbed my leg and made weird face right in the middle of a conversation I was having. It scared thee hell out of me, and a little bit of the other person I was talking too as well. I ignored it and wrote it off as a one time thing. 3–4 days later the same pain appeared, lasting about 5 seconds. In the past 2 weeks, it has happened maybe 6 times. Now the pain is appearing more on the front of my lower leg, down my foot. I feel like I have had some light pains in my right leg, but otherwise all of the take your breath away pains have pretty much been in the same area of my left leg. Other than these 5–10 second episodes, I have no pain, swelling, or redness, anywhere. I’m pretty sure it is not a blood clot, although I’m taking an aspiring a day just in case. Obviously, I need to stop smoking, ASAP, and I really want to stop smoking as well. Symptoms like this are great motivators. I do sit a lot in weird positions where I have my legs tucked underneath me like when I sit on a couch using my computer. I’ve been trying to not do this and have better body positioning. I’m really at a loss of how to explain this. The pain is so intense, it is really quite scary. Makes me thing there is something seriously wrong with my body, or that I have fucked it up from smoking. If it keeps up another week or so, I’m going to see my doctor, although I doubt they will be of any help. From what I’ve read, these kinds of pains are very hard to diagnose, and most get the term “idiopathic” which is just a fancy way of saying “we have no fucking clue.” Just wanted to share my experience.

athoubi's avatar

@paulczar i have the same problem as well im 23 years old i got stabbing pains on my side of my left thigh and it hurts me mostly when im sleeping. I am a smoker as well but i smoke mostly 5 smokes a day sometimes less. I sit on my bed when using my laptop so im thinking its from the heat of the laptop on my leg that is causing this. My mom thinks it might be from wearing heels or a side effect that comes once in a while because of my epilepsy but i dont know exactly. Im going to the doctors today after work to see whats going on because ever since i got the pain on my thigh ive been getting pain on my right upper back so im thinking a pulled a couple muscles as well. But i hope its nothing bad.

CharlieT's avatar

I had an EVAR in mid September which was healing well. However a month later I was readmitted to Urgent Care with sudden onsetof right lower limb pain. It was decided that I had suffered a blocked right limb of the EVAR graft. A right femoral angiogram and thromolysis was carried out and both limbs of the stent graft were reinforced distally with bare self expanding stents.
It is now over 8 weeks since the last set of procedures were carried out and whilst I remained in hospital for about 10 days,apart from the discomfort and weakness one would expect from the operations, considerable pain was not experienced.
Now, however, I am experiencing stabbing pain in the front right thigh area which moves around from knee to groin. Also I suffer burning sensations to both left and right upper limbs again from knee to groin.
The various discomforts seem not to improve and I did not really get reasons from the surgeon when I went for a recent follow up.
They checked the blood flow through both limbs, which were OK.
Any thoughts would be appreciated.
Thanks

Morrison's avatar

Please has anyone have electric shock like pain in side of thigh which can last all day, been to doctors and pain specialist, all I get is pain relief which does not work for me I have had every sort of pain relief you can think of, the pain is so bad I could cut the leg of,also can get very hot in the area, you Can see a small lump where the pain is .

fullbrewtx's avatar

I started getting these same shooting pains for the past month. Doctor visit said it may be sciatica, but I do not have any back pain at all. I believe this issue manifested itself by the way I sit at work everyday, where you sit on one of your legs, in a figure “4”, because the pain is coming from the same spot where my leg rests on the other while sitting. Now I have been getting these random ‘shooting’ pains in my left leg, whether sitting, standing, or lying down. My sister recommended acupuncture. I went my sister’s acupuncturist on her recommendation, and it has worked. The pains have been 95% cured for now (after one treatment). I can still occasionally feel the sensation of whatever triggers the shooting pains, but the shooting pain never happens. It is amazing because I have never even thought about or had acupuncture before. The treatment consisted of acupuncture with a tens unit for 20 min. I have had one more followup visit four days later from the first and we will see how effective this will be. So far, so good.

kimodo's avatar

I have this pain also – front of thigh , I call it the “voodoo” pain. Like my ex has a voodoo doll & is stabbing me in the thigh.It can happen while I am sitting,standing,sleeping,walking.It lasts anywhere from 5 – 45 seconds,once or several times a day.I went to the doctor, had an MRI of my thigh & back.Had a nerve test ,doctors have no clue as to what is wrong & joke that maybe I should go to church with my voodoo pain….

EliEscalante14's avatar

My name is Eli Escalante I am 14 and I have had this sharp shooting pain in my upper thigh I have had this problem for about 7 years now and I don’t know what the problem is.

melodyeco's avatar

This pain might be a deficiency in B12. I donated blood and 9 days after donation, i woke up with these stabbing but short-lived pains in my left thigh. I went to urgent care, and the doctor told me it wasn’t a blood clot. He didn’t know what it could be. I took B12 that day and the next and went to a nurse practitioner and asked that my blood be tested for a B12 deficiency. It did not show up deficient since i had already taken two supplements. The pain diminished on the third day, and by the four day, it was completely gone. I am vegan and should be taking B12 regularly, but would never have realized how important it is. I searched the internet and finally found a reference to a B12 deficiency causing nerve damage which presented as sharp stabbing pain. B12 was the answer to my ailment. It’s worth trying. That pain is awfull.

BDhiggins's avatar

Same exact thing as someone else mentioned. Inside right thigh, Very sharp and quick stabbing pain for a few seconds then goes away. Been happening intermittently for a couple months now and no explanation as to why.

angelparade's avatar

I find the pain is much less intense if I stretch my low back muscles, glutes and hips, stand with a minimum of arch in my low back, and minimize sitting. I have a pending appointment with my chiropractor—I know he can help.

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