Pain in legs and feet

Pain in legs and feet

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​Pain in the lower limbs may be caused by a number of reasons, which vary according to age, weight, illnesses and daily activities. Often pain in the lower limbs resolves with rest and self-care.

Adolescents’ lower limb pain is often caused by an injury, a twisted joint or a direct blow to the legs. As a person ages, lower limb pain may be caused by osteoarthritis, wear and tear to tendons, and fallen arch of the foot. Also pinched nerves, circulatory disorders, inflammation, and heavy, long-lasting sport exercise may cause lower limb pain.

Self-care

If the pain is most likely caused by sudden stress or a minor injury, the pain usually resolves on its own. If you are able to put weight on the injured foot almost normally and the injured area is not remarkably swollen, the injury is probably a minor one. The pain can be treated by rest, elevation of the leg, hot and cold compressions and suitable over-the-counter pain medication from a pharmacy.  Pharmacy staff will help you select the right product, if necessary.

Knee and ankle pain caused by excess weight can usually be alleviated by rest and painkillers in the acute phase. In the long run, however, weight loss and increase in moderate non-impact exercise (swimming and cycling) will be more effective.  Also warm baths or light massage may relieve lower limb pain and ache.

Patients with diabetes should always take lower limb pains seriously.  To prevent problems, you should check your feet regularly, use moisturising cream and treat sores to avoid infection. 

When should you seek medical advice?

You should seek medical advice, if

  • you are unable to put any weight on the injured foot.​
  • ​​​the pain started suddenly and the skin, joint or a larger area in the limb is swollen or warm to the touch.
  • ​the pain in your calf or shin started on its own and other symptoms include changes in skin colour, swelling or a temperature.​
  • ​the pain in your leg started during exertion and other symptoms include numbness or muscle weakness.
  • the pain persists over a long period of time, gets worse or is regular.
  • if you have diabetes.​​

More information

The producers of the instruction

​Emergency care professionals have produced the instruction in collaboration with Terveyskirjasto.​

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Updated  22.4.2021