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Why do people have aching legs?

Most of us have experienced aching legs at some point in our lives. Some people describe them as a dull pain but find it difficult to point out exactly where the pain is coming from. The ache isn’t a sharp pain but often explained as a discomfort in the legs and feet.

Leg aches could be due to many things. Some experience aching legs at night after a long run or after standing all day at work. Others may feel their leg aches more as they get older. Some others get aching legs due to a medical condition while some people find their legs ache for no reason. 

In this article, we’ll focus on aching legs due to poor circulation and explore ways to help you find relief for them.

What are the symptoms of aching legs?

Your legs have carried you from the time you could walk and been there for you every step of the way, so experiencing some worn-out feeling in your legs and feet is normal.

You may experience an uncomfortable achy pain or ache in the lower legs. Some people have more serious leg aches which are painful. Other symptoms that may accompany leg aches are:

Intermittent pain (claudication)

which may feel like leg cramps 

Pain that worsens during exercises

The pain or ache subsides when you rest.

Cold feeling

in one or both legs 

Pins and needles

Sometimes, this might feel like a tingly feeling in the affected leg.

Weak leg muscles

The legs feel weak and lacks strength.

Wounds that won’t heal

or take longer to heal.

You may notice that you only have tired aching legs on occasion. Or you might have aching legs at night or your feet may only feel sore when you’ve been standing most of the day. Those are probably nothing to worry about.

But, if your legs start aching or feel tired and the discomfort affects your walking, or you begin to experience aching most of the time and it is affecting your sleep at night, it’s time to evaluate the problem.

If your symptoms occur frequently and they are impacting your daily life, see your doctor so they can determine the cause and develop a treatment plan.


What can cause aching legs and feet?  

Here are some of the more common reasons for aches and the feeling of discomfort in the legs:

Poor Circulation

Poor circulation, medically diagnosed as Peripheral artery disease (PAD), is a condition which can cause pain and cramping. Risk factors include with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smokers and people past 50 years old. PAD impacts over 200 million people around the world1. PAD affects the arteries when fat deposits build up on the artery’s walls, narrowing and hardening the blood vessels. This makes it hard for blood to flow (poor circulation), resulting in a lack of oxygen to the feet and legs.

PAD commonly affects the legs and can impact circulation to both the feet and legs causing an aching feeling and discomfort in your legs. You can also experience cramps, especially when you walk or when you sleep at night, also called night cramps.

If you have PAD, your feet and legs may also feel colder. You may notice that your legs feel weaker and might even feel tingly, a pins and needles feeling. If you get a sore on your leg or foot, you may notice that it heals slower than normal.

There are several risk factors for PAD

Half the people with PAD do not display any symptoms of PAD2. In fact, a person with heart disease has a 1 in 3 chance of having PAD3, which is why it is important to be aware of the risk factors associated with this medical condition.

High blood pressure
High cholesterol
Over 50
Sedentary (inactive) lifestyle

If you have PAD, it could be a sign that the arteries leading to your heart and brain are also narrowed and there is a six to seven times higher risk of a heart attack or stroke3.

Leg symptoms, especially where combined with certain underlying medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking or diabetes may be an indicator of poor circulation associated with peripheral arterial disease. Consult your doctor regarding peripheral arterial disease.


Additional Considerations

If you are frequently experiencing aching legs through the day or aching legs at night, and they affect your everyday movement and rest, make an appointment to see your doctor. There are many things that can cause your symptoms. Poor circulation is a common cause for leg aches and discomfort, but there may be other causes which you doctor can help identify.

Finding relief for your aching legs

If you have any of the conditions that commonly lead to a feeling of discomfort and aching in your legs, it is vital to follow your doctor’s advice in treating any medical condition that causes your symptoms.

It is also useful to ask your doctor about things you can do at home to help relieve your leg aches and activities which can help you move around more.

Eat a healthy, balanced diet

Eat foods with less salt or shake a little less salt on your food. This might reduce the symptoms that accompany swelling in your legs. This may reduce the aching and pain you feel in your legs and feet. Depending on which medication you’re taking, your doctor might offer different advice concerning your salt intake so make sure to talk to your doctor before making changes in your diet.

Stop smoking

Smoking harms your blood vessels by accelerating plaque build-up and therefore increases your risk of poor circulation from Peripheral Arterial Disease. Poor circulation brings on symptoms of aching legs and feet, and a host of other leg problems. By choosing to quit smoking, you will be helping your health.

If you’re overweight, lose a few kilos

Unfortunately, carrying unwanted weight increases the pressure in the lower legs. This is a contributing factor in causing leg aches, discomfort and pain. If you lose weight, this may help reduce your leg symptoms because your body will contend with less pressure.

Keep moving

You want to avoid too much standing or sitting for an extended time. Sedentary living increases the risk of poor circulation. Your legs and feet feel the aches and pain because of reduced blood flow in the legs. Changing positions and keeping your body moving, on the other hand, will help improve circulation and offer relief for your symptoms.

Boost blood circulation in your body

There are a few activities you can do on your own. Starting a gentle walking program or even swimming therapy can help your body. This can have many good effects from improving your blood circulation, losing weight to improving your stamina5.

Walking helps your leg muscles contract and relax to pump the blood back up to your heart. It gets more fresh oxygenated blood flowing in your lower legs. If you have PAD and find that you have difficulty walking a long distance, using Revitive Circulation Booster may help reduce pain when walking. In fact, clinical results show that for people with PAD who use Revitive daily to improve their blood flow, they have been able to walk further before the onset of leg pain6.

Before starting on any new exercise activity, discuss them with your doctor.

Yes, Revitive Circulation Booster can help reduce aching legs. Revitive is clinically proven to improve blood flow in the legs and feet during use, and this helps reduce aching, painful legs and feet. 

There are the occasions when we have had done an unusual amount of running, walking or simply standing for too long on our feet and as a result experienced terrible leg aches at night. However, if you are having frequent aching legs at night or night cramps, and it is disrupting your sleep, causing you to feel tired and fatigued during the day, it could be a sign of a more progressive stage of Peripheral Arterial Disease. Make an appointment to see your Doctor as soon as possible to find out the root cause.

If you experience aching legs once in a while, especially after an exceptional amount of standing, or moving on your legs, your muscles are likely to experience muscle fatigue from overuse. When your legs ache for a long time or frequently ache for no reason, discuss this condition with your Doctor to make sure it isn’t due to a more serious condition.

Get back to doing the things you love

No doubt, you want to get the most out of life but constant aching, painful legs can interrupt your daily activities.

While it’s important to respect any medical limitations you might have, there are likely a few things you can do to help yourself find relief from your pain.

Your doctor knows best how to treat any medical conditions you have. Follow their advice. In the meantime, ask them if there are things you can do at home to improve your blood circulation and help you getting about, without any more drugs.

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Disclaimer: This content is not intended as medical advice. We believe in helping people to make informed decisions about their health. We hope to empower you to ask your physician the right questions so you can both agree on a treatment plan that’s right for you.

  1. Jun Shu and Gaetano Santulli. Update on peripheral artery disease: Epidemiology and evidence-based facts,
  2. Australian Journal of General Practice website,
  3. My Cleveland Clinic website,
  4. Vascular Cures,
  5. WebMD website,
  6. Babber A, Ravikumar R, Onida S, Lane TRA, Davies AH. Effect of footplate neuromuscular electrical stimulation on functional and quality-of-life parameters in patients with peripheral artery disease: pilot, and subsequent randomized clinical trial. Br J Surg. 2020;107(4):355-363. doi:10.1002/bjs.11398

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