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Chronic Leg Pain Causes

author image Martin Hughes
Martin Hughes is a chiropractic physician, health writer and the co-owner of a website devoted to natural footgear. He writes about health, fitness, diet and lifestyle. Hughes earned his Bachelor of Science in kinesiology at the University of Waterloo and his doctoral degree from Western States Chiropractic College in Portland, Ore.
Chronic Leg Pain Causes
Numerous factors can cause leg pain. Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images

Numerous conditions can cause chronic leg pain. According to the Mayo Clinic website, leg pain can be constant or it can come and go. It can be diffuse, widespread or focal, affecting only one part of the leg. Chronic leg pain is persistent, long-standing leg pain that may be sharp, stabbing, dull or aching. Chronic leg pain can be caused by medical conditions affecting the nerves, blood vessels and joints in one or both legs.


Thrombophlebitis can cause chronic leg pain. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health or NIH, thrombophlebitis is an inflammation or swelling of a vein due to a blood clot. Thrombophlebitis usually occurs in the legs. A person's risk for thrombophlebitis increases if he is hospitalized, for surgery or for a major illness, has a blood-clotting disorder or sits for a prolonged period without moving the legs. The Mayo Clinic website states that common signs and symptoms associated with thrombophlebitis include warmth, tenderness, pain, redness and swelling in the involved area. According to the NIH, the two principle types of thrombophlebitis are deep venous thrombosis and superficial thrombophlebitis. Deep venous thrombosis affects larger veins that lie farther away from the skin. Superficial thrombophlebitis affects veins that lie closer to the skin's surface.

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Degenerative Joint Disease

Degenerative joint disease can cause chronic leg pain. The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases or NIAMS--a division of the National Institutes of Health--states that degenerative joint disease, also known as osteoarthritis, is a painful condition that targets the hips, knees and other joints throughout the body. According to the NIAMS, degenerative joint disease manifests in joints that experience repetitive overuse from performing a specific task, playing certain sports or carrying too much body weight. Muscle imbalances or variations in muscle tone from one side of the body to the other may place stress on the joints and cause uneven joint wearing. Over time, joint cartilage is worn away and bone spurs or osteophytes may develop around the joint. Common signs and symptoms associated with degenerative joint disease include joint pain, tenderness and stiffness, reduced joint active range of motion and a grating sensation within the affected joint or joints.

Peripheral Artery Disease

Peripheral artery disease can cause chronic leg pain. According to the Mayo Clinic website, peripheral artery disease is a common circulatory condition characterized by narrowed arteries. Narrowed arteries impair circulation or blood flow to the extremities, including the legs. In fact, the legs are the most common location for peripheral artery disease. Peripheral artery disease may be a sign of widespread atherosclerosis or the accumulation of fatty and fibrous substances within the lumen or inner walls of the arteries. Common signs and symptoms associated with peripheral artery disease include painful cramping in the hip, thigh or calf muscles after walking, leg numbness and weakness, coldness in the affected leg, lower extremity sores that heal slowly or fail to heal, leg discoloration and a weak pulse in the legs and feet. The Mayo Clinic website states that peripheral artery disease can be treated by quitting tobacco, exercising regularly and consuming a healthy diet.

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