What Causes Leg Pain At Night?

What causes leg pain at night?

Recently we published two blog posts on the different causes of leg pain and how to treat them: common causes of leg pain and what’s causing your leg pain? Today we are going to continue with this theme and discuss what causes leg pain at night. So let’s dive right in.

5 Reasons You Have Leg Pain At Night:


Chances are you know someone who suffers from sciatica. It is a fairly common leg pain that comes from a pinched nerve in your lower spine. Since it typically worsens when you are sitting or laying down, it is a common cause of leg pain at night.

It can range from a bad cramp to a very strong shooting pain that makes it difficult to stand as well. People typically feel it because of a herniated or slipped disk, a spasm in your buttocks, a slipped vertebra, or spinal stenosis. Most normally, your doctor will recommend over-the-counter pain medications, physical therapy, or regenerative medicine. For sufferers with serious sciatica, sometimes surgery is required.


You may be asking yourself, how can my arthritis cause me to have leg pain at night? Well, most people experience arthritic flair ups due to a lack of movement. So this common condition that affects your joints and causes pain, swelling, and stiffness may also be disrupting your sleep.

When you have arthritis in your hips, ankles, or knees, it can be hard to walk, perform everyday activities, or even rest. There’s currently no cure for arthritis but it helps to stay active and at a healthy weight. If you don’t know what a healthy weight for your height and age is, you can ask your doctor for suggestions.

Lastly, some people get relief from heating pads, ice packs, and platelet-rich-plasma or stem cell injections. They may help ease pain and swelling in your aching joints.

Muscle Cramp

When you think of a muscle cramp, you probably think of someone performing exercise or an activity. However, muscle cramps can occur while you rest as well. A muscle cramp is when a muscle – mostly in your calf – gets tight. When this happens, it can bring on a sharp pain and you may feel a lump of muscle under your skin.

As we age, we are more prone to muscle cramps – especially if we live in hotter climates and don’t drink enough water throughout the day. Before you go to sleep, make sure to drink a full glass of water to help prevent cramping. While they usually go away on their own and aren’t a sight of a serious health issue – talk to your doctor if you experience them often.

Varicose Veins

These unsightly veins are the result of your body working extra hard to pump blood back to your heart. When this occurs they tend to bulge and look twisted, blue, or dark purple. Outside of their appearance, they may actually cause you a significant amount of pain at night. Varicose veins may make your legs feel heavy, burn, throb, or cramp.

We typically see patients with varicose veins as they age, are overweight, pregnant, or stand or sit for long periods of time. The good thing is, losing weight, exercising, or wearing compression socks may be all that’s required to help get rid of them. If these methods don’t work, talk with your doctor about other treatment options.

Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS)

This is perhaps the most common cause of your leg pain at night. RLS is actually diagnosed as a sleep disorder and causes sufferers to experience a strong desire to move their legs throughout the night. It shares a lot of the same features as muscle cramps and may go away if you stand up and move around throughout the night. Some people also note a twitching that runs through their legs.

Obviously if you have to get up and move around, it is disrupting your sleep patterns. If this is the case, you can do a couple of things on your own before seeking medical attention:

  • Reducing caffeine intake (especially later in the day)
  • Quit smoking
  • Relaxation techniques

If these at home remedies do not work, you may also want to try massage therapy, a diet change, or over-the-counter medications your doctor recommends. Lastly, if you experience restless leg syndrome and want to learn more about it, please look into the RLS foundation. They have a ton of information that may be of use to you.

Further Reading:

Our staff at Metropolitan Pain Consultants looks forward to hearing from you. You can contact us at (201) 729-0001. We offer weekday and weekend appointments. Our conveniently located clinics can be found in West OrangeAberdeenClifton, and Lyndhurst.

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