Sharp pains in the leg that occur without warning or happen frequently can limit your movement as well as your ability to go about normal daily activities. Anyone can develop sharp leg pains, and the pain can occur anywhere from the joint with the hip, down into the knees and all the way to the ankles; it may radiate into the foot or lower back as well. Consider this information derived from the Mayo Clinic and the National Library of Medicine about the medical causes of sharp leg pains.
Disorders of the bones of the legs and lower back can be a cause of sharp leg pain, according to the Mayo Clinic. A fractured, bulging or herniated disk in the lower back can cause sudden sharp pains in the leg that can radiate all the way to the toes. Cancer in the bones of the legs and arthritis in the joints of the hip, knee or ankle can also be a cause of sharp leg pains.
According to the Mayo Clinic, broken bones in the leg and foot can be a cause of sharp leg pains. A break in one of the large bones of the leg (tibia, fibula or femur) can cause sudden sharp pains and an inability to bear weight. A stress fracture in a leg or foot bone can also be a cause of sharp leg pains, and both fractures and broken bones require immediate medical attention.
According to the National Library of Medicine, certain types of circulatory problems may be a cause of sharp leg pains. Atherosclerosis can cause problems with blood flow to muscles in the legs, resulting in sharp pains referred to as claudication that occur while walking. Disorders of the veins in the legs, including varicose veins and blood clots can also cause sharp leg pains.
Disorders of the muscles, tendons and ligaments in the legs may be a cause of sharp leg pain, according to the National Library of Medicine. Inflammation of a tendon, which is referred to as tendinitis, can cause sharp leg pains, especially around the knees. A strained or torn muscle can also be a cause of sharp leg pain. Sometimes the pain is not felt until several hours after the muscle is damaged.
Disorders of the nerves in the legs can be a cause of sharp leg pain, according to the Mayo Clinic. Peripheral neuropathy is a chronic condition that causes damage to the nerves in the toes, feet and legs and can result in sharp pains. Sharp leg pains can also be a result of sciatica, which is an inflammation of the sciatic nerve that goes from the lower back to the toes.
Overuse or intense physical activity can be a cause of sharp leg pain, according to the National Library of Medicine. Shin splints are a common type of sharp pain in the front of the lower legs, and often occur after exercise on an incline or running. Prolonged or strenuous exercise can cause the leg's muscles to become fatigued or inflamed, which is another possible cause of sharp leg pains.