Read below about upper leg pain, including causes, treatment options and remedies. Or get a personalized analysis of your upper leg pain from our A.I. health assistant. At Buoy, we build tools that help you know what’s wrong right now and how to get the right care.

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Upper Leg Pain Symptoms

It sounds like you might need to skip the squats at the gym today! It might even be worth taking the elevator instead of the stairs. Those large upper leg muscles provide a lot of area for pain and, when the upper leg hurts, it can really limit mobility.

For most of us, our legs are important components of our everyday lives. Upper leg pain makes it difficult to walk, exercise, and even drive a car.

Upper leg pain symptoms include:

  • Discomfort while standing or walking
  • Inability to put weight on the leg
  • Bruising, discoloration, or bleeding
  • Sudden sharp pain
  • Lingering pain
  • Dark purple or blue colored veins

Legs give us the freedom to run, walk, jump, climb, and negotiate the world around us. The upper leg, in particular, is comprised of bones and muscles that are susceptible to injury, particularly when excess strain is placed upon them. The muscles in the upper leg power many of our movements.

Depending on the origin of the discomfort, upper leg pain symptoms can be a chronic nuisance or acute and debilitating. Upper leg pain is often caused by overexertion but can also be an indicator of more significant issues which require medical attention.

Upper Leg Pain Causes Overview

Given its size and the wide range of motions it supports, upper leg pain symptoms are common. Pain in the large bones and muscles of the upper leg can be caused by a wide range of ailments.

Whether treatment is a home remedy or provided by a medical professional, identifying the upper leg pain causes can be useful in determining how to move forward.

Traumatic upper leg pain causes:

  • Strains: During athletic activity or when the upper leg muscles are overstretched during everyday tasks the muscles can be strained.
  • Bruising: Direct impacts to the upper leg can damage the muscles and skin tissue, causing discoloration and pain.
  • Breaks: Significant trauma can fracture or break the femur and prohibit movement.
  • Cramps: Muscles contract when they are fatigued, or the body is dehydrated.

Systemic disease upper leg pain causes:

  • Tumors: Growths in the legs and lower back, cancerous or not, compress nerves and limit mobility resulting in pain.
  • Vascular: Abnormal conditions of the veins and arteries result in a wide range of conditions. The upper leg is often afflicted by varicose veins, for example.

Inflammatory upper leg pain causes:

  • Autoimmune: Diseases that affect nerves, particularly in the lower back can deliver pain to the upper leg. Spinal stenosis and degenerative disc disease are examples that can impact the upper leg. Bone or tissue infections can result in swelling, redness, and pain.
  • Infections: Infections of the bones and tissues of the upper leg can result in swelling, redness, and pain.

2 Potential Upper Leg Pain Causes

  1. 1.Cellulitis

    Cellulitis is an infection of the skin and tissues underneath it. It is most commonly caused by Group A strep and typically enters the body through a break in the skin.

    Dependent on severity of infection

    Rarity:
    Uncommon
    Top Symptoms:
    fever, upper leg pain, upper leg redness, painful upper leg swelling, upper leg injury
    Symptoms that always occur with cellulitis:
    upper leg redness, area of skin redness
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor

    Upper Leg Pain Checker

    Take a quiz to find out why you’re having upper leg pain.

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  2. 2.Ewing Sarcoma

    Ewing sarcoma is a type of bone cancer often affecting the legs, pelvis, ribs, arms or spine. It can occur anytime during childhood and young adulthood; it is rarely seen in adults.

    Curable with total treatment lasting 8-12 months

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, loss of appetite, new headache, fever, rib pain
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor

Upper Leg Pain Treatments and Relief

Fortunately, upper leg pain symptoms can often receive some level of treatment at home.

Minor upper leg pain is not a cause for concern, but it is important to seek immediate attention if you experience the following upper leg pain symptoms:

  • Deep cuts or exposed bones
  • Fever and upper leg pain
  • Inability to walk
  • Redness and warmth to the touch
  • Paleness and cool to the touch

Cramps and strains lend themselves well to home remedies, but more significant traumatic events or complex underlying issues will require medical attention from a professional.

At-home upper leg pain treatments:

  • Rest, stretching, and ice: Taking time to let the body heal can sometimes be the best medicine for mild pain. Keeping the leg elevated and taking warm baths will help increase blood flow and loosen the muscles. Pain from varicose veins can also often be relieved with exercise and elevation.
  • Over-the-Counter Medicines: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), like ibuprofen, are commonly used to help reduce pain and limit inflammation.

Professional upper leg pain treatments:

  • Prescription Medications: Antibiotics could be prescribed by your doctor to treat infection or stronger pain relief medication may be necessary to manage significant pain.
  • Surgery: Deep wounds, bone breaks, and the removal of cancerous tumors will likely require operations to treat. These procedures will help ensure the upper leg heals properly.

The upper leg is large for a reason. It plays an important role in many functions of the leg so even mild pain can be more than a nuisance. Taking the time to properly care for a painful upper leg will help expedite healing and limit discomfort, but always contact your doctor when the pain is persistent, or a larger traumatic event has occurred.

FAQs About Upper Leg Pain

Here are some frequently asked questions about upper leg pain.

Why do I have upper leg pain while walking?

Pain in the upper leg is common and likely a result of muscular issues. Cramps caused by dehydration, certain medications, or overuse of the muscles could be the culprit. An injury, such as a strain or stress fracture in the bones, may also be causing this pain.

What does a pulled leg muscle feel like?

The term “pulled muscle” typically refers to a muscle strain and happens from overexertion and poor flexibility. A pulled muscle in your leg will likely result in localized pain in the affected muscle. Moving the muscle will be difficult. You may also find that the muscle is swollen and tender to the touch.

Why do my legs ache when I lay down?

If your cardiovascular system is not performing as it should (or has a serious issue) then circulation to the legs might be limited when you lay down, causing pain. Another cause is Restless Legs Syndrome which is a disorder that results in unpleasant feelings in the legs and a persistent urge to move.

Can a blood clot cause upper thigh pain?

Yes, blood clots can form in the thigh typically deep within the leg. In addition to being painful, clots that form in this area can be particularly dangerous. The clot is called deep-vein thrombosis, and if dislodged, can migrate to the lungs and cause a pulmonary embolism.

What is causing burning pain in the front of my thigh?

This sensation in the front of the thigh is likely due to nerve damage. Several nerve conditions, including meralgia paresthetica, are linked to this symptom and it is important to consult your doctor to determine a diagnosis. Your doctor will likely want to know the extent of the burning, frequency, and if it occurs in both legs or only one.

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Upper Leg Pain

  • Q.Any fever today or during the last week?
  • Q.What is your body mass?
  • Q.Do your symptoms get worse when you exercise?
  • Q.Where is your upper leg pain located?

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions, try our upper leg pain symptom checker to find out more.

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Upper Leg Pain Symptom Checker Statistics

  • People who have experienced upper leg pain have also experienced:

    • 13% Lower Leg Pain
    • 12% Hip Pain
    • 9% Lower Back Pain
  • People who have experienced upper leg pain had symptoms persist for:

    • 33% Over a Month
    • 26% Less Than a Week
    • 22% Less Than a Day
  • Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from visits to the Buoy AI health assistant (check it out by clicking on “Take Quiz”).

Disclaimer: The article does not replace an evaluation by a physician. Information on this page is provided as an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes.

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