Pain in legs and feet

General information

Injuries are the most common cause of lower limb pain. Pain can also be caused by osteoarthritis, ligament injuries and a changed foot position. Other causes include pinched nerves, circulatory problems and inflammation caused by a stress injury. Heavy, long-lasting sport exercise may also cause pain in the lower limbs.

Home care

If the pain is clearly caused by sudden stress or a minor injury, the pain can be treated with the RICE method (rest, ice, compression and elevation) and by taking pain medication. If you can walk fairly normally and the injured area is not severely swollen, the injury is probably minor, and you can monitor its development at home.

Overweight may also cause pain in the knees and ankles. This type of pain can usually be alleviated by rest and painkillers. In the long run, moderate non-impact exercise (swimming and cycling) and weight loss may bring relief. Some patients benefit from warm baths and light massage.

When should you seek medical advice?

You should seek medical advice

  • if you are unable to step on the injured foot or put any weight on it.
  • if the pain in your calf has started on its own and the other symptoms include changes in skin colour, swelling and temperature. These symptoms may be a sign of a deep-vein thrombosis.
  • If the pain in your leg has started during exertion and the symptoms include numbness of the foot or muscle weakness, you should seek medical treatment immediately.

Patients with diabetes should always take lower limb pains seriously. If you have diabetes and have symptoms in your lower limbs, always be in touch with your diabetes nurse or other health-care professionals.

This Self-care instruction has been produced in collaboration with Duodecim Terveyskirjasto


Updated  5.6.2020