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.

Aching legs could be due to many things. Some experience leg aches after a long run or after standing all day at work. Others may feel it more as they get older and some others get aching legs due to a medical condition.

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

What causes 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:

mobile_cramp
Intermittent pain (claudication)

which may feel like leg cramps 

painful_leg-feet
Pain that worsens during exercises

The pain or ache subsides when you rest.

cold_feet
Cold feeling

in one or both legs 

pins-needles
Pins and needles

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

muscles
Weak leg muscles

The legs feel weak and lacks strength.

arthrose_swelling
Wounds that won’t heal

or take longer to heal.

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

But, if your legs start to feel tired or achy and the pain affects your walking, or you begin to experience aching most of the time, 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.

hold_leg_lifestyle_symptom

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 blood pressure
cholesterol
High cholesterol
diabetes
Diabetes
age
Over 50
weigt
Obesity
smoking
Smoking
sedentarity
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 and pain in the legs, and they affect your everyday movement, 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.

food_alimentation
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.

smoking
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.

exercise
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.

moving
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.

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, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6113064/
  2. Australian Journal of General Practice website, https://www1.racgp.org.au/ajgp/2020/may/peripheral-artery-disease-in-lower-limbs
  3. My Cleveland Clinic website, https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/17357-peripheral-artery-disease-pad
  4. Vascular Cures,  https://vascularcures.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/lifesaving-tips-on-smoking-and-pad-flyer-Vascular-Cures.pdf
  5. WebMD website, https://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/features/hate-gym-work-out-in-water#1
  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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