14 common reasons why your thighs hurt

When the thighs hurt it can be due to various reasons: trauma, blows, injuries while training, problems with the sciatic nerve. Read on and learn more about the causes and treatments.

Last update: December 15, 2021

When the thighs hurt, we experience difficulty doing some exercisessuch as squats, running, or biking. Pain can be felt in the back, sides, or front of the area.

Sometimes it becomes so intense that activities of daily living are affected as well. In this sense, there may be discomfort when climbing stairs, walking or even remaining seated.

This can occur from physical exhaustion, overtraining, or injury.. In addition to the circumstances related to physical activity, in some health conditions, thigh pain is one of the symptoms.

Thigh anatomy

The thigh is the part of the lower limb between the hip and knee joints. It is made up of several muscle groups:

  • Quadriceps: rectus femoris, vastus intermedius, medial and lateral.
  • Sartorius: Together with the aforementioned, they make up the front of the thigh.
  • Hamstrings: semimembranosus, semitendinosus and biceps femoris, which make up the posterior part.
  • Medial compartment: in this area are the adductors (greater, long and short), along with the gracile and the pectineus.

Reasons why thighs hurt

There are a number of reasons why your thighs hurt. Some are more common and some are less frequent. It is important to learn to recognize them because this will help identify the cause and determine how they can be treated.

1. Trauma or blow

As it happens in other parts of the body, any type of blow or trauma to the thigh can be painful. And since it is an area where there are many nerves, sometimes the sensation remains for a certain time. In addition to sensitivity, bruising and inflammation may also be evident.

2. Cramps

The cramps can appear after spending a long time in the same positionEither standing, sitting, crouching in the wrong way. In addition to the pain, the cramp makes the thigh numb and the leg difficult to move.

Thigh injuries are associated with intense sports practice or inappropriate gestures.

3. Muscle spasms

The spasms are involuntary and temporary contractions of a muscle that are painful. Factors that contribute to the development of a spasm include inadequate and insufficient hydration, low levels of potassium or calcium, as well as work overload.

4. Adaptation to training

If we have had a long downtime, any training we undertake from scratch can make our thighs sore. These pains, however, should disappear in a short time, as exercise becomes habitual for us.

5. Warming up and stretching

If we begin to exercise at once, without going through the previous phase of preparing the body for physical activity, we may feel spasms, cramps, pain, or injure ourselves. So we must not forget or underestimate the importance of warming up and stretching in the routine.

6. Intense training

This is one of the most common causes of thigh pain. It might be because using a lot of weight or for a very long workout. Even for a change in routine, incorporating exercises that we were not used to.

7. Injury

There are several types of injuries: muscle contracture, strain, and tear. Any of them can make our thighs sore, making it difficult for our legs to move. Injuries occur from overexertion, jerky movements, working with fatigue, improper equipment, or lack of warm-up.

8. Tendinitis

Tendonitis is a painful inflammation of the tendons. In the case of the thigh, quadriceps or hamstring tendonitis may occur. It also affects mobility, as well as muscle tone and strength. They take weeks to cure.

9. Iliotibial band friction

The iliotibial band is a fascia (connective tissue) on the outer thigh, which can sometimes become irritated and inflamed by over-activity or repetitive stress. According to research, IT band syndrome is quite common among runners and cyclists, accounting for 12% of injuries to these athletes.

10. Meralgia paresthetica

Meralgia paresthetica is a condition in which compression of the femoroccutaneous nerve occurs that passes through the lateral part of the thigh. This not only causes pain in the area, but also a decrease in sensitivity. In general, the pain is worse when the person stands or walks for a long time.

11. Sciatica

The inflamed sciatic nerve is also another reason why our thighs hurt. In this case, the sensitivity is located in the back. It often produces a tingling sensation, as well as weakness and making it difficult to walk or stay seated.

12. Spinal nerve impingement

When there is hernia in the lumbar discs the nerves that come out of the spine can be pinched. If those affected are those that reach or move up the thigh, pain occurs there.

13. Spinal stenosis

It is a process similar to the one previously described, except that spinal stenosis is degenerative. In it there is a narrowing of the lumbar canal due to compression of the spine. Symptoms include pain and a feeling of heaviness or numbness in the thighs, made worse by standing or walking.

14. CVA and thrombosis

After a cerebrovascular accident (CVA) or a thrombosis, the thighs also hurt, as well as the shoulder or hand joint and other parts of the body. It is known as neuropathic pain and is described as a stinging, burning, or squeezing sensation. There may also be numbness, muscle weakness, and tingling.

How is the diagnosis when the thighs hurt?

When the thighs hurt, the doctor should begin by doing a general physical examination, including the legs. In addition to this, the anamnesis is very important.

In this sense, The doctor will ask the patient about the pain, in which position he feels it the most, during what activity, how often, at what times of the day it occurs, if it has had any trauma and what other symptoms are manifested.

They will also look for bruising or swelling.. You will need to palpate the areas and check the joints and muscles for signs of injury. In addition, it will ask the patient to make controlled movements and efforts.

In turn, various tests can be performed. Among these are the following:

  • Bone scan.
  • Electromyography.
  • Magnetic resonance.
  • Ultrasound.

Treatments for thigh pain

The treatment to follow when the thighs hurt will depend on the reasons or reasons why this occurs. However, there are some general recommendations that may be common to all cases:

  • Repose: stopping any physical activity and resting is the first measure to relieve pain or prevent it from increasing.
  • Apply local heat or cold.
  • Taking pain relievers or anti-inflammatories (ibuprofen, diclofenac).
  • Apply ointments to reduce pain or inflammation (especially in case of trauma.
  • Keep the limb elevated.
  • Immobilize for a while, If necessary.


In certain patients Physiotherapy sessions are performed when there is tendinitis, contracture, strain, or tear in the process of recovery. Even this is done with meralgias and other disorders.

Also, exercise and moderate movements with stretching can help us relieve when the thighs hurt. In other patients, when there is chronic pain, traditional approaches are combined with alternative ones, such as acupuncture. This can be done as long as the doctor authorizes it.

Sometimes it is necessary to change physical activity for a time to prevent the pain from increasing.

Should I go to the doctor if my thighs hurt?

The condition can go away on its own, just by resting. But it is necessary to see a doctor if it becomes chronic, recurrent, is very acute, disabling or other symptoms appear (such as bruises). It is important to note that thigh pain can sometimes be a sign of a larger condition.

On the other hand, to help in the diagnosis, treatment and recovery process, the person must be attentive to what happens when the thighs hurt. In this sense, it is suggested to take note of the symptoms that are experienced, at what time or in what position the pain is felt.

Of course, if during this process you notice that some particular activities make your thighs hurt more, you should also try to moderate this activity. Even if it’s about exercise.

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