Causes of leg pain and effective treatments

In the bone apparatus of the human skeleton, the joints are responsible for mobility and take the associated loads. Additionally, the joints of the lower extremities have to withstand body weight, which makes them vulnerable to pathologies of various origins.

Unpleasant sensations can be caused by simple fatigue or injuries, but there are more serious reasons for their manifestation. Therefore, if the joints of the legs hurt, the doctor determines the causes and treatment after passing a thorough examination and making an accurate diagnosis, which determines the complex of therapeutic measures.

Joints of the lower extremities

In total, ten types of joints are located in the human leg, which ensure its mobility and stability of the body in space.

NameFormFunctionQuantity in one leg
hipsphericalconnect the femur to the pelvis1
kneeblockyconnect the femur to the lower leg1
anklesconnect shin with foot1

Small joints of the foot:

NameFormFunctionQuantity in one leg
Interphalangealmultiformprovide articulation of the bones of the foot9
Metatarsal Tarsus5
Transverse tarsal joint1
Calcaneal heel1


Shishkevich Vladimir, orthopedic and traumatologistShishkevich Vladimir, orthopedic and traumatologist, project editor-in-chief ExpertNews.

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Pain in the joints of the legs appears for a number of reasons. There are many diseases associated with joints. According to their manifestation and symptoms, they are divided into three large groups:

  1. Arthritis – pathologies of an inflammatory nature;
  2. Arthrosis is a degenerative pathology in which the destruction of cartilage and then bone tissue occurs;
  3. Arthralgia is a disease of the joints that do not have a pronounced pathology, but are accompanied by severe pain.


The nature of the occurrence of pathologies is diverse. Pain in the joints of the legs has the following causes:

  1. Genetic predisposition;
  2. Hormonal disorders, including those caused by diseases of the endocrine system;
  3. Disorders in the excretory system, among which diseases of the gastrointestinal tract are of particular importance;
  4. Diseases of an exchange nature, leading to a slowdown in metabolism;
  5. Injuries, including bruises, sprains, minor damage to bones in the form of cracks;
  6. Vascular diseases that lead to a decrease in vascular tone and a slowdown in blood flow.

In order to determine how to treat pain in the joints of the legs, it is necessary to find the true cause of its occurrence. In case of pain, it is urgent to consult a doctor and undergo an examination.


First signs

If the joints on the legs hurt, this indicates that the disease has reached a certain stage, and began to give visible signals. Effectively cope with the disease will help competent and early diagnosis.

The nature of the pain in the joints of the legs and the way they are manifested may be characteristic signs of a particular disease and an occasion to consult a doctor:

  1. Pain in the knees when moving up the stairs, especially up, indicates the initial stage of osteoarthrosis. This is a disease in which the destruction of cartilage tissue occurs. Moreover, the pain can occur, both in one or two joints, and in all joints of the legs. Visually, seals in the upper phalanges of the fingers can be observed.
  2. An acute cross in the joint of the big toe indicates the onset of the inflammatory process, which is a faithful companion of arthritis. It is especially characteristic of diseases such as gout or pseudogout.
  3. Arthritis is also indicated by swelling and redness of the joint.
  4. Pain in the hip joints or knees when walking also indicates arthritis, as large joints are susceptible to this disease to a large extent.
  5. If acute lumbago in the joints of the legs is accompanied by impaired movement of the fingers, when it becomes difficult to perform minor operations, then this is a sign of rheumato />

If you notice one or more of the above symptoms, you should consult a doctor. To begin with, it must be a rheumatologist. After the initial examination and basic research, he may give a referral to a traumatologist, surgeon, neuropathologist, gynecologist (for women) or a urologist (for men), to determine the deeper causes that led to the development of the disease.

Methods of diagnosis

General inspection

Diagnostics begins with it. The doctor examines not only the joints themselves, determining the nature of visual deviations from what is considered normal, but also asks for several movements, accompanied by detailed comments about the sensations, pain and its nature. He looks at the posture and gait features, which also matter in articular pathologies.

The final stage during a general examination is goniometry. Using a special device, the doctor finds out the degree of mobility of the diseased joint. The patient is asked to make several movements, during which the goniometer determines the amplitude of the leg movement with:

For each movement, there are established norms with which the doctor correlates the obtained measurement results.

Laboratory research

Important information about the condition of the joints is drawn from the results of the tests:

A biochemical study reveals the content of various substances. Deviation of the amount of a substance from the established norm indicates the presence of an inflammatory process.

  1. If the blood contains an increased content of uric acid, this indicates the onset of gouty processes;
  2. With changes in the levels of lysosomal enzymes, there is a risk of diagnoses such as psoriatic polyarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis.

Inflammation is indicated by an increase in the rate at which red blood cells settle – ROE.

In the initial stages of the disease, this analysis is uninformative. However, with the development of pathology in the urine, proteins and blood can be detected, which indicates a strong inflammatory process.

Beam methods

The study is carried out through radiation in small doses. On the obtained images, a two-dimensional image of the bones is obtained, which allows you to see the degenerative processes of cartilage and / or bone tissue. It is used for suspected arthrosis.

It has contraindications for those who have weakened immunity and pregnant women.

A kind of x-ray study with the use of contrast. To do this, a special fluid containing iodine ions is injected into the joint, which allows you to make more contrasting and clear pictures.

It is used for injuries of the knee menisci, suspected pathology in the joint bag or rupture of the articular ligaments.

Contraindications are the same as for a simple x-ray, and iodine allergy.

Another type of x-ray study, which allows you to get a “cut” of the joint tissue at different angles.

  • It is used to diagnose dystrophy or proliferation of tissues, tumors and other neoplasms;
  • The procedure lasts no more than 3 minutes and is absolutely harmless;
  • With all methods of radiation diagnostics, the result can be obtained in digital form or on a special film.

In terms of image accuracy, magnetic resonance imaging is similar to computed beam tomography, but it has a different radiation pattern – magnetic waves.

Diagnoses neoplasms and pathologies in the vessels providing blood flow to the joints. It has no contraindications.

  • An ultrasound scan gives a three-dimensional image of the joint and its tissues;
  • It is used for all pathologies, since this method accurately diagnoses inflammatory and degenerative processes;
  • It has no contraindications and is suitable for pregnant women.

Characteristic pathologies

For various joints of the legs, certain pathologies are characteristic.


  1. Cartilage destruction and loss of depreciation during movement;
  2. Bone growths may appear at the site of lost cartilage;
  3. The formation of cysts in the head or in the acetabulum;
  4. Sclerotic phenomena in the plates on the surface of the joint.

Perthes disease

Violation of blood circulation in the head of the hip joint, which leads to the death of (soft tissue) necrosis.

A pathology of an incomprehensible nature, in which at the place of soft tissue dying off, there is a proliferation of connective, which replaces the formed voids.

Femoral acetabular collision

Pathological collision of bone elements of the hip joint. The reason for the development of this disease is not clear. Therefore, it is important to correctly diagnose and carry out a surgical operation on time.

  • Acute pain when bending the legs;
  • Limited thigh movement.

The deformity is visible in the x-ray, but similarity with other joint diseases leads to errors in the diagnosis.


This type of arthritis is characterized by inflammation of the synovial joint bag, which manifests itself as a complication of arthritis. Bursitis affects large joints.

If it occurs in the hip joint, the following symptoms are characteristic:

  1. In the acute phase, burning pain appears from the outside of the thigh;
  2. With the development of the disease, the pain becomes dull, but covers the entire thigh with a return to the knee;
  3. If the bursitis is purulent, the pain is unbearable and does not allow to move.

Knee joints

Arthritis and arthrosis

Despite the fact that the nature of the disease is different, the clinic characteristic of the knee joints is similar:

  • The joint loses its mobility;
  • When moving, a strong pain syndrome occurs in the form of a cross;
  • With arthritis, the knee swells, and the skin turns red;
  • With arthrosis, movement is accompanied by a light crunch.


The clinical picture is similar to bursitis of the hip joint.

Dissecting osteochondritis

A type of arthrosis, in which the cartilage in some part exfoliates from the bone, moving into the joint cavity.


The inflammatory process in the synovial bag.

It is accompanied by acute pain and accumulation of exudate, which must be removed.

Rare pathologies of the knee joint:

  1. Circulatory disturbance in the joint tissues;
  2. Goff disease, in which fatty tissue becomes inflamed;
  3. Chondromalacia, when cartilage on the patella is damaged;
  4. Gout with the deposition of sodium and calcium salts as a result of uric ac />


This joint is not subject to known articular pathologies, and pain in it occurs as a result of injuries:

Stretching is treated by applying a tight bandage and complete rest. In the last two cases, you need to contact a traumatologist.

Small joints of the foot

For these joints, pathologies such as:


After the diagnosis is made and the causes of pain in the joints of the legs are determined, as well as their exact localization, the doctor prescribes complex therapy, depending on the nature of the disease and its nature.


Common to all types of pathology is the appointment of painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs in the acute phase, for which the following groups of drugs are used:

With arthrosis and other degenerative pathologies, chondroprotectors are used to restore cartilage tissue:


Physiotherapeutic procedures can significantly enhance the effect of therapeutic drugs, especially analgesics and chondoprotectors.

For pain in the joints of the legs, apply:

  1. Magnetotherapy;
  2. Ultrasound;
  3. Radon baths;
  4. Salt baths;
  5. Mud therapy.

Massage and reflexology

Sore joints of the legs respond well to treatment, when in complex therapy during remission or in chronic forms include:

  • Specialized therapeutic massage of joints;
  • Hardware vibration massage;
  • Vacuum massage
  • Underwater massage in sea water;
  • Acupressure or acupuncture.

If the legs hurt, the joints first need rest, and after removing the pain and inflammation of special therapeutic exercises, which are included in the complex of therapeutic and rehabilitation measures.

The basic complex for arthritis and arthrosis:

  • The number of repetitions is from 4 to 12 times for each leg and in each direction.
  • Starting position – standing, feet shoulder width apart:
  1. Rotations of the toes. Set aside one leg half a step back, trying to reach with the heel of the floor, without bending the supporting leg at the knee. Lift it to the toe and make rotational movements to the left, and then to the right. Repeat the exercise with the second leg.
  2. Knee rotation. Move your legs close to each other and bend at the knees, as if crouching. Put your stomach on your hips. Palms rest on your knees. Without taking your feet off the floor, rotate your knees to the left, and then to the right.
  3. Hip rotation. Find balance on one supporting leg, tearing the second off the floor and lifting it by 10 centimeters. Then bend it at the knee and lift it so that the thigh is parallel to the floor. Take aside. Take back, straightening your leg. Bend at the knee and pull forward. Repeat exercise for the other leg.

Joint development is combined with muscle stretching, for which techniques such as:

  • Pilates;
  • Callanetics;
  • Other systems of stretching;
  • Yoga.

For the treatment of knee joints and the prevention of ankle injuries, the famous Lotus asana is ideal. Immediately to accept this position does not work, but striving for this, a person stretches the necessary muscles and tendons. This tension achieves the necessary treated effect.

All types of stretching:

  • Contribute to the removal of muscle spasms, and is an adequate replacement for muscle relaxants;
  • Increase the elasticity of muscles and blood vessels;
  • They enhance blood circulation, which contributes to better tissue nutrition and regeneration.


In the initial stages of the disease, drug treatment is replaced with folk recipes from herbs and natural products.

An adequate replacement for painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs are:

  1. Compresses from a decoction of willow bark;
  2. Honey and salt applications;
  3. Salt dressings;
  4. Banana peel applications or compresses made from banana pulp;
  5. A tablespoon of pumpkin oil on an empty stomach 15 minutes before meals.

As chondroprotectors used:

  • Burdock root, in the form of decoctions, tinctures or powder;
  • One banana in the morning on an empty stomach;
  • Adding turmeric to food;
  • A tablespoon of fasting flaxseed oil 15 minutes before meals.

Warming ointments will replace:

  • A compress of horseradish leaves at night;
  • Rubbing with mustard oil;
  • A linen bag filled with hot sea salt.
Anatoly Kudravets

Anatoly Kudravets, Orthopedic Traumatologist. He works with severe cases, practices operative methods of treating connective tissues