You had a rough workout yesterday and your legs are paying for it today. Maybe you went a little too hard on the squats or your run was longer than expected.
Maybe you’re not really sure what caused your leg soreness.
No matter where your pain occurs in your leg or how much it hurts, you may find yourself asking, “Is this normal?” It’s only natural to have a healthy level of concern any time you experience pain.
Here are a few things to keep an eye on if you’re suffering from sore legs.
Most of us have experienced tired legs from a long day at work or the dreaded charley horse in the middle of the night.
But those are pretty normal, right?
Here are some other symptoms that could possibly be a sign of something a little bit more serious.
Swelling and Warmness in the Calf
A little swelling around injured joints and muscles is fairly normal, but if you’re experiencing significant swelling around your calf, you should get it checked out. Your calf could also radiate heat along with the swelling.
These two symptoms could be a sign of deep vein thrombosis, which is a serious condition that needs immediate medical attention.
Deep vein thrombosis, or DVT, is caused when a blood clot forms deep in the veins of your body. Though they can happen anywhere in the body, they most commonly occur in the legs.
Some serious complications can arise from DVT if it goes untreated. The blood clots can become unlodged and move into the lungs, causing a pulmonary embolism. This is life-threatening and can quickly lead to death.
Leg Pain After Mild Exertion or Walking
If you spend long days on your feet or go for a run, it’s expected to experience some leg pain.
But if your leg pain is happening when you only walk short distances, that’s a bit more serious. If your leg pain doesn’t seem appropriate for the amount of movement you’ve been doing, seek medical attention.
Regular leg soreness will only occur in your legs with no other symptoms.
If you experience leg soreness followed by a fever, that’s not a good thing. Fever is almost always a sign of infection, so if these two things happen at the same time, your legs could be infected.
An infection in your legs can only be diagnosed and treated by a doctor.
Progressive Weakness or Numbness
If you notice your leg pain causing more and more weakness, that’s not a great sign.
Leg pain does frequently cause muscle weakness, but numbness is a bit more concerning. Sore legs should get better over time as they heal.
If your sore legs are becoming progressively more weak and even numb, this is a sign that the problem is worsening.
If your leg pain causes difficulty breathing, it could be serious.
Remember that pulmonary embolism mentioned earlier occurring in the lungs?
If you find yourself having difficulty breathing, even when you aren’t moving, seek medical attention immediately. It could be a life-threatening issue.
Aside from DVT, there are quite a few other common issues that could be causing your sore legs.
If you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms but it isn’t DVT, there could be a few different things causing it. Luckily, many of these aren’t life-threatening.
The most common cause of leg soreness is overuse or overexertion.
We all love a good workout (well, some of us do). But nobody loves having legs so sore that you can barely move the next day.
It doesn’t necessarily come from an intense workout. If you spend a day walking around more than you normally do, that counts as overexertion and can also lead to sore and achy legs.
What does normal leg pain from working out or walking a lot feel like?
For starters, it will begin during or soon after the activity. For some people, it may show up the day after the activity. What makes it overexertion-related soreness is that it can be linked back directly to overuse of a muscle.
It will usually be experienced as all-over pain and muscle fatigue. If you worked out a specific muscle group, like your glutes or quads, it will be in those areas.
It could also cause muscle cramping and weakness, but is usually not debilitating. It should also be easy to treat. It shouldn’t worsen over time, and if it does, it could mean an injury happened.
For muscle soreness from exercise, you have a few options.
The easiest thing is to rest and give your muscles time to heal before engaging in an activity again. Elevating your legs and icing them can reduce pain and swelling.
You could try something like a high-quality massage gun to speed up the healing process and get your muscles feeling better and performing better sooner.
Try something like an over-the-counter pain reliever to temporarily treat pain.
If you’re experiencing pain that isn’t treatable by an OTC medication, you should see a doctor and see if you have a sprain or tear. These can be treated with splints or casts to prevent further damage.
Restless Leg Syndrome
One common cause of leg pain is something called restless leg syndrome. Restless leg syndrome, called RLS for short, can only be diagnosed by a doctor.
A few common risk factors for this syndrome are family members who have it, iron deficiency, and pregnancy.
Here are a few ways to see if you may have RLS.
The most common symptoms of RLS are aching, burning, and tingling sensations, especially at night and when resting. These discomforts cause those affected to have the urge to move and stretch their legs in an attempt to find relief.
Due to its frequent symptoms that present at night, RLS frequently leads to insomnia. This can understandably be frustrating to those who suffer from RLS.
Restless leg syndrome can be managed by a few lifestyle changes. Things like losing weight if you’re overweight, reducing caffeine, quitting smoking, and taking iron supplements can be great home remedies to reduce symptoms.
A doctor will help you come up with a treatment plan since this syndrome is not curable.
If you notice that your leg pain seems to be frequently in your joints, you may suffer from arthritis.
Arthritis is a very common condition that many people suffer from, and it can be treated by a few different things once diagnosed.
Common symptoms of arthritis are pain and stiffness in your legs, feet, arms, and hands. This can lead to reduced mobility in the affected areas. You may find that your range of motion is decreased.
Since it affects the joints, you may notice some swelling in the knees, ankles, or knuckles.
Arthritis is another disease that can only be diagnosed by a doctor.
Since there are a few different types of arthritis, treatment plans range from icing your joints and NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) to prescription medications.
In some cases, your doctor could use corticosteroids to provide relief.
Seek Medical Attention
Most leg soreness is not a cause of concern and can easily be taken care of with non-invasive treatments like a massage gun or a pain reliever.
If you’re concerned about your sore legs, always seek medical attention.