Leg Muscle Pain

How to care for your leg muscle pain

There are many causes for leg muscle pain, and it’s important to pinpoint the cause of it before you start to seek treatment.  One of the most common causes for leg muscle pain is a muscle strain, pull, or tear.  This type of injury is especially common in the thigh of athletes.

In the thigh, the hamstrings and quadriceps are especially prone to muscle strains as they are used for a lot of sports activities and cross the knee and hip joints.  Symptoms of a muscle tear include a snapping or popping feeling as the muscle tears.  Pain from a muscle tear is usually very sudden and severe.  It’s usually pretty obvious that something has happened to the muscle the moment it happens.

Muscles that are strained are prone to being injured again, so it’s important that they heal properly before you put them to the test again.  Doctors often recommend the RICE protocol for leg muscle pain caused by muscle strains or tears.  The R in rice stands for rest, which is pretty self-explanatory.  Give your muscle a chance to heal itself.  Baby it for a while and let it have some time to heal.  The I stands for ice.  Avoid heating pads for leg muscle pain that’s caused by a strain.  Ice will numb the area and relieve the pain.  Always wrap the ice packs in a towel to avoid applying the ice directly on the skin.  You can apply ice packs twenty minutes at a time, a few times per day. 

The C in the RICE protocol is compression.  Purchase a special compression bandage at the pharmacy and wear it to help your leg heal.  The E stands for elevation.  Keep your leg elevated to minimize swelling.  Always make sure your leg is above your heart.

Doctors sometimes will prescribe an anti-inflammatory medication (i.e. aspirin) to help with your leg muscle pain.

If you’re sure the leg muscle pain is not from an injury, then there’s a possibility it’s caused by weak or tight muscles.  Doing some simple stretches will help you get rid of this type of leg muscle pain.  One common stretch for the quadriceps muscle group is bending your knee and bringing your foot up behind you.  Hold on to your foot with your hand and feel the muscles stretch.  To stretch your hamstrings, sit on the floor with one leg forward, bending the other with the foot resting against your other knee.  Reach down and touch your shin.  Trade legs to stretch both of them.