General Question

eadinad's avatar

What is this dull ache in my leg?

Asked by eadinad (1263 points ) July 14th, 2008

From the time I was a small child I will occasionally get this weird ache in my leg or legs – all the way up and down, but more concentrated in my lower leg. It is dull and lasts for an hour or more, sometimes waning in and out. It kind of feels like it is in my bones, if that makes sense. It does not feel like a strain or a muscle injury. It seems to occur most often at night, when I am lying in bed.

Any ideas?

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27 Answers

marinelife's avatar

There is more than one possibility. It would be best to talk to your doctor about it and have a thorough workup done.

ljs22's avatar

I have that too. I find it is prevented somewhat by regular exercise. If I’m not consistent in the amount I walk or do cardio, my legs always ache. Taking ibuprofen and putting a pillow under my knees while I sleep has helped.

ljs22's avatar

Also, while I agree with Marina that a doctor’s visit is probably a good idea, I want to add that both my mother and grandfather have the same problem, so I personally believe there is a hereditary element to what I’ve always just called “my leg aches.” No doctor has ever really diagnosed it or cured it and it’s never gotten worse for anyone in my family. So I wouldn’t worry too much.

cyrusbond's avatar

Definatly go to the Doc…as much as I hate doctors, they do sometimes help people.

shilolo's avatar

@Cyrus. I’m sure the doctors love you right back.
@Eadinad. Your description sounds vaguely like a neuropathy (or problem with your nerves). This can occur either peripherally (basically after the nerves leave the spine) or centrally. For example, you could have spinal stenosis (a narrowing of the spine) affecting the nerves of your legs. Or, it could be a slipped disc that intermittently impinges (presses on) the nerves of your legs. I strongly suggest you go to a doctor for a complete medical evaluation.

ninjaxmarc's avatar

acupuncture could open up your blood flow
sounds like bad flow.

aweav's avatar

You’ve described a problem that has plagued members of my family ever since I can remember. My mother always claimed leg ache came from two things: walking barefoot on cold surfaces, or it was about to rain or snow. I’ve also heard that leg ache is more prominent in families with a history of arthritis. Leg ache was worse when I was a kid, and now being in my early 20’s I get it less frequently. But when I do suffer from a bout, I still apply my mother’s full-proof remedy: a hot water bottle applied to the ache and an asprin.

kelimer's avatar

I used to have a lot of really bad aches and muscle spasms in my legs and also severe RLS and found out that I am anemic. Once I began taking good- sized doses (dr suggested amounts) of iron, the RLS has just about gone away completely, the muscle spasms are few and far between and the aches are so much less frequent now. When my legs ache again- even while on the iron, I will eat iron- enriched foods and that does help more. (You can overdose on iron though, so beware.)
I would have some bloodwork done if I were you. I would definitely see a doctor. It could be any of a number of things.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

I was going to make a funny comment about removing that bear trap, but on second thought, I’ll just refrain from being flippant here. :-) whew, that was close!

shaez's avatar

I don’t have an answer but it is honestly nice to know that other people are going through this as well. I was looking online for any suggestions of what this may be. I too have suffered since I was a child with this dull achy pain. My Mom just told me that it was growing pains but I believe that at almost 26yrs old I should be DONE growing! For some reason it flared up two weeks ago and it has not gone away. It gets very bad after I exercise. It is the same pain but different only because it has not gone away as it usually did and it didn’t used to ‘return’ until a few months later. When I had it as a child if I would go to sleep it would go away by morning. But now I find that I am not tired (insomnia) and therefore I am so very tired during the day. before it would start late in the day. Now it starts around noon time and lasts until I fall asleep around 3am. It doesnt make sense that I am so very tired during the day but find it almost impossible to fall asleep when I should. Ibuprofen helped in the past with the achiness and at first onset of this ‘episode’ but will not work anymore.

kathhicks's avatar

Been having trouble with this leg ache issue. Especially when I go to bed, but it is faint right now. Strange and uncomfortable.
I have been having hip issues and went to chiro and massage therapist but it is the opposite leg from which the major hip problem is.
Working out and on my feet all day cleaning yesterday maybe had something to do with it???
Thanks for bringing up the subject.
We have something in common, sounds just like what I have been dealing with.

Gudith's avatar

Wow, didn’t think it would be as common as this! I’ve had this problem of the dull leg ache (which feels as though it’s radiating out from my bones) ever since I was a child as well..parents diagnosing it as ‘growing pain’ of course. I’m starting to get concerned as I’ve passed the growing stage now at 19. It appears after strenuous exercise like long-distance running, after long periods of standing up or dancing. It appears every 1–3months, lasting between a few hours to a few days.

flylack's avatar

I have the same pain every day off and on through the day.. when Im driving it can hit me on the front thigh and travel down to the calf(massaging it and moving the leg helps.) , when I am on the computer as well and can travel to the arms and shoulder.
I read and can’t find if it is RLS or what. I think it could be related to my pinch nerve (L5) but not sure. Some doctors have said that and some have said poor circulation, some have said arthiritus(sp), I take supplements including progesterone and more. but no help. I just hope it isnot cancerous or something really bad.

Fruitbat's avatar

Glad to find others with the same symptoms as me – I am in my mid-forties and like some of the others responding here, first experienced these aches in childhood. My dad used to massage my calf muscles to help my ‘growing pains’. I have continued to experience them all through adult-hood (when the only growing is in the waist-line). Usually in my calves but very occasionally in thighs after exercise (running or a long walk) and now I have an allotment and do a lot of intensive digging, I also get it in my fore-arms. Like Eadinad, the dull ache seems to radiate from my bones and generally is only a problem when I am trying to get to sleep. It is quite a distinct ache from stiff muscle pain or cramping. Luckily, I can usually stop it coming on after exercise with paracetamol or ibuprofen before going to bed. Heat and massage help to alleviate it but not prevent it. Would love to know the underlying cause but have never really worried about it from a health point of view.

nznznz's avatar

I too get this ache… mostly in my legs (sometimes from my hip bone right down to my little toe) but sometimes in my arms too.
I’m 22 and have experienced this since I was a child. My parents also told me it was “growing pains” and I’ve never really worried about it. It usually comes about in the evening, although when I was younger it would wake me up at night.
I haven’t had it in a while but in the last couple of months it’s starting to come back, and quite a lot more painful than I remember. I used to use arnica cream for it but now I take ibuprofen. Anyway.. it’s nice to know other people experience the same thing!
Oh and it runs in my family too, with my father and grandfather describing a similar thing.

svander's avatar

I get these “throbbing aches” when I lay on my legs….if I’m lying on the couch, after so long my leg starts to ache so I have to switch sides..or if my husband and I are on the couch and he leans on me (my legs) they start to ache (throb)..seems any kind of pressure on them, makes them ache….this is even worse in bed….I sleep on my side so I’m constantly having to switch sides…the pain is aweful….a throbbing pain that runs right down my leg. It’s very frustrating when you’re trying to sleep!! I even sleep with a body pillow….nothing seems to help!

jessibky's avatar

I have never heard anyone describe the pain I’ve always experienced exactly the same before. People (including Dr.s I’ve visited) always say it’s a charlie horse or a sports injury, but that does not describe the pain! I’ve had the same thing for as long as I can remember (I’m 24 now). It seems vaguely to be affected by exercize in that if I haven’t in a while and I do- pain. Or if I have been consistently and then I stop-pain. It comes late at night, and usually wakes me up when it occurs. I’ve tried to ignore it, but I usually end up having a bad night’s sleep. When I was little my dad would rub it for me, or if he was out of town, I would usually end up sleeping on the stairs (I don’t know why that worked, but it helped). Now that I’m in more control, my strategy is pain reliever + hot pack + massage whenever it occures. I don’t use a heating pab, but the pain is usually gone enough to sleep after about 20 minutes with those remedys. I’ve also noticed it’s always gone by the morning, and when I wake up at night with it, it’s slightly painful to walk on. Also, as described by others above, my father also had the same problem. His is pretty much gone at this point, and has been since his 20’s.

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blanchardkelly's avatar

I have also had problems with leg pain like my father I am now 43 and have had a type of pain since I was around 4 years of age. Because my dad had it I found out early that I to had restless leg syndrome, that is where you sit down at night and just have to shake your legs to make the annoying throbbing pain go away. But as of around 5months ago I developed a new pain that is brought on only when I sleep on my side with my legs over each other touching in any way. The pain radiates through out my legs throbbing in the knee, calf ,and thigh. but laying flat or on my stomach helps. I of course roll all night and hurt. I have had a blood clot before and the pain is not the calf cramping that I now associate with that.

madelinescully's avatar

I too have had this since childhood and an 50 now. it must be a genetic thing as an aunt had it and both my daughters also have it. getting a chill on the legs, feet or arm or hand brings it on and the only way to get rid of it is both heat and panadol (I can’t take aspirin). Wrap the limb completely in something warm – a blanket or jacket or pants. If it is the leg, warm pants with the ends tucked into warm socks. If it is an arm, a jumper with a sock over the hand , and the cuffs of the jumper tucked into the sock. I can get it both winter or summer. In winter I always make sure I am wearing warm pants and at home tuck my pant legs into my socks. At work I wear 90 denier knee length stockings or 90 denier tights. In summer, it happens on a hot humid day when it suddenly cools down after a wind change (common here in Australia). If I don’t cover up straight away, I’ll get the pain. Walking on a cold floor with bare feet is another way to instant pain. The foot or hand on the affected limb will be icy cold so i’m guessing it’s a circulation thing, but like everyone else, no one seems to know what it is. Most people insist it is a magnesium deficiency but since I’ve had it all my life and it’s a family thing, I don’t think this is the reason. It’s not exactly a cramp either and magnesium deficiency causes cramps not the deep ache this is. It’s like the bone is really cold and hurts really badly.

I’d love to know what it is but somehow, I don’t think that’s likely.

rdorsey's avatar

It is amazing to find others who know my pain. Misery loves company? I usually get the ‘phantom’ ache when I’m tired but, don’t go to sleep right away, if you know what I mean. It’s like I miss the threshold where I should’ve gone to bed and now my body is punishing me because I didn’t. I’ve only found some element of relief by kneeling on my ottoman. I’ve tried taking sleeping pills before bed but they don’t seem to work so, I end up missing “the sleep threshold” and pay for it the next day with both, a lack of sleep and, the sleeping pill hangover. . It would be wonderful to find a diagnosis and some prescribed form of relief. I’m 45 and have dealt with this since I was 10 or so. I don’t like to to
ly anymore because I can’t walk or kneel on a plane.

juli's avatar

Should I go to a Neuropathic dr for the pain I like the others on this forum

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Snoland's avatar

When I read all these comments it was great, not greAt that others have this but because i am not ALONE! I am 43 and I have had this all my life. Not constantly but comes and goes. As a child I was diagnosed with juvenile arthritis. This explained the joint pain but not the throbbing pain in my legs. Since I have gotten older the arthritis has gotten worse, and I show some signs of RA and lupus. I see a rheumatologist regularly and I am on plaqunel. (Sp). Others in my family have this also and mainly affects the females. Today was one of those bad leg days

amandaleann86's avatar

I was told growing pains as well. I’m almost 27. Mom had them…I have them and now my 4 year old has them. World like to know ignoring a Dr could help to prevent. I wake up almost every other nights and take ibuprofen and rub biofreeze on it.

floyap's avatar

I myself have had this off and on since childhood. It seems like the colder winters cause the worse pain. Even now these past few days with the rain in April it’s so bad I cry from the pain and have problems sleeping. I’m in my 50’s have seen doctors on and off and no one really knows what’s wrong. Since I was a kid I was told poor circulation I’m my legs and to keep active which never helped because I was in every school sports team possible back then.

All I know more is at times I feel like chopping my legs off it gets so bad. Living in a retirement building we only have showers so appalling I’m warm to hit water is not an option. I just try to deal with letting the pain pass and how it will be a very long time before it revisits me again.

It’s nice to know I’m not alone or crazy experiencing this, but I sure wish there was a cure for this. Within the last ten years I was diagnosed with RLS but I’m all honesty I don’t believe it’s related to this at all.

James865's avatar

This has only recently started happening to me. In December last year it came as pain in my thighs down to my toes and I was peeing more often then usual. I went to get checked out and had no infection so was left confused! I started back at the gym and the pain left almost as quickly as it came! After stopping the gym for 6 weeks the pain and peeing returned once again no infection bloods checked all fine. It is a constant dull ache that spreads through the thighs to my toes and recently I have been getting pain in my knees hands and elbows! I an thinking it maybe anxiety related, I just want my pain free life back!

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