Thigh pain: symptoms, causes and treatment
Updated: February 2020
Enabling us to stand up and move our legs, and by extension, to move our entire bodies, our thighs are heavily used in the course of our day-to-day lives. It is therefore quite common to experience pain in your thighs, and this can have a number of causes. Your thighs are made up of one bone (the femur) and many muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves and blood vessels, which are all potential sources of thigh pain.
Types of thigh pain
We can identify various types of thigh pain. For example, you might feel thigh pain in different places – in the front or back of your thigh, in your inner or outer thighs, or just under your buttock or next to your groin. The pain could be diffuse, or confined to a very specific area. Thigh pain may also be accompanied by various other symptoms (e.g. pins and needles, burning or electric shock sensations, swollen legs, coldness, loss of sensation) and/or pain in other parts of your body. Thigh pain can be the result of an injury, come on during strenuous activity and either stop – or persist – at rest. It can even occur without any exertion at all. Finally, it may affect either one or both thighs.
Causes of thigh pain
Thigh pain can be due to a problem with your bones, muscles, blood vessels or nerves. Bone-related pain could be caused by a fractured femur, or a condition such as osteoporosis (brittle bones), for example. Muscle pain could be due to a cramp, a pulled or strained muscle, or tendinitis. Blood-vessel related pain could be caused by venous insufficiency or phlebitis or thrombosis, for example. When it comes to nerve pain, the cause could be sciatica or cruralgia, which is sometimes called ‘front sciatica’ as it has similar symptoms.
Treating thigh pain
The treatment for thigh pain depends on its cause. Your doctor might prescribe painkillers or anti-inflammatory drugs to help with pain due to an issue with your bones or muscles, or for nerve pain such as sciatica. If you have a problem with your blood vessels, such as phlebitis or thrombosis, you might also be prescribed compression or support stockings. In some cases you might need orthopaedic treatment, such as if you have a fracture for example, when you would need to have a plaster cast fitted. If you have sciatica or cruralgia, you might find that physiotherapy can help. Finally, in some cases, surgery may be needed.
There are also some solutions that help to relieve or reduce pain – and muscle pain in particular – without the need for medication. This is a feature of the OMRON HeatTens range of pain relievers, which combine soothing heat with Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS).