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Why do my legs ache?

Written By: Emma Squillace

We all know that as we get older a range of ‘aches and pains’ are the norm. But sometimes it’s hard to know what types of discomfort are treatable, which ones are dangerous, and which ones are preventable. Pain in the legs can be particularly frustrating. Many of our patients say they have a hard time getting comfortable if their legs ache. Some who sit at work all day, find that their legs hurt through the day, and that can get even worse when they stand up. Others are on their feet all day and just want to lie down when they can. Leg pain can get in the way of your ability to sleep well, your activity level, and your quality of life. Let’s look at some of the common causes of leg pain that many people face.

Varicose Veins

Varicose veins are one of the most common causes of leg aches. These swollen, twisted veins occur when there is a weakened or compromised blood vessel. One of the most common signs of varicose veins are a dull aching in the legs. Patients say their legs feel heavy when they have varicose veins. While certain lifestyle changes can help alleviate the discomfort temporarily, the only way to get rid of varicose veins is with treatment like minimally invasive options like laser treatment or sclerotherapy.

Lactic Acid

If you are very active, your aching legs may be caused by a buildup of lactic acid. Our bodies release lactic acid in response to intense exercise. This is not a dangerous health condition but can be uncomfortable. If your leg pain is caused by lactic acid build up, try to ensure you are resting between exercise sessions, staying well hydrated, and stretch before you do strenuous activity. People generally not need medical treatment if this is the cause of the discomfort.

Blood Clot

If you have a sharp pain in your leg, this could be a blood clot. A blood clot is potentially very dangerous. If a blood clot in your legs breaks lose, it can travel through your circulatory system and get lodged somewhere like your lungs. This can cause death quickly, from lack of oxygen or heart failure. It’s important to know that varicose veins are a risk factor for blood clots, so by treating your varicose veins, you may be able to prevent a very serious health condition.


Another common cause of leg pain, especially in older adults, is osteoarthritis. This condition is related to cartilage breaking down, which results in your bones losing their protection. Osteoarthritis pain is generally felt at a joint – like your knee – instead of in the lower legs, where varicose vein pain is more likely to be felt. While it’s difficult to prevent osteoarthritis – or treat it – weight loss is one of the best ways to reverse the leg pain associated with this disease.

There are many reasons your legs may ache, especially as you get older. Some causes are benign and will go away on their own. Others, like varicose veins, cannot be treated without medical intervention. If you have heavy-feeling or aching legs, and you think varicose veins may the cause, call West Medical for more information. You can reach our expert vein team at (855) 690-0565.

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