How to pinpoint lower leg pain

Written by barb nefer
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How to pinpoint lower leg pain
(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

When you are suffering from lower leg pain, it's important to pinpoint exactly where the pain is occurring, as well as the type of pain, in order to describe it to your doctor. He can only make a correct diagnosis if you are able to tell him where it's happening and exactly what it feels like, as well as any factors that seem to make it worse. The more accurately you can pinpoint your lower leg pain and the exact circumstances in which it occurs, the more quickly you'll get a correct diagnosis and treatment.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Determine the exact location of the pain and whether it ever radiates or spreads or whether it is limited to that area. Describe the location by naming the exact part of your lower leg where it is occurring. For example, it might be in your upper or lower calf or on the right side of your kneecap. Be as precise as possible, such as "just below my knee, on the left side of the bone." Also, notice whether it feels close to the surface or deeper inside the lower leg.

  2. 2

    Use descriptive words to characterise the pain so your doctor will understand exactly what you are feeling. Is it a dull ache or a sharp throbbing? Does your lower leg feel numb, tingly, loose, or tight? Is there a sensation of heat or cold? The more descriptive you can be, the more clues you will give to your doctor for use in making a diagnosis.

  3. 3

    Determine when the lower leg pain started and if there was a specific triggering event. For example, did you fall two weeks ago and notice the pain right after that? Did you start a new medication last month and notice a throbbing in your calf two days later? Is it a low key pain that started two months ago without any trigger? Be as precise as possible with the time frame and any significant events surrounding it.

  4. 4

    Figure out whether there are any factors that make your lower leg pain feel better or worse. Is it aggravated by doing certain activities or wearing a specific pair of shoes? Does the pain go away when you sit or lie down, or does that make it worse? Is it affected by heat or cold?

Tips and warnings

  • If you are having difficulty pinpointing and managing your lower leg pain, you may want to visit a doctor who specialises in pain management. He may have more experience than your family doctor in helping you pinpoint the cause so the pain can be treated appropriately.
  • Don't spent too long trying to figure out the details of your lower leg pain. Certain conditions need immediate treatment in order to increase your changes of fully recovering.
  • Lower leg pain can even indicate a toxic reaction to certain medications. Rather than guessing or playing detective, go to your doctor as soon as possible. She can do diagnostic tests that will pinpoint the pain.

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