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What Causes Shooting Leg Pain?

By K. Gierok
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Shooting leg pain is often a difficult condition to treat, due to the various different causes. Typically, the most common causes of this type of pain include disorders of the bones, circulatory system conditions, or disorders in the muscular system. In some cases, excessive exercise or inactivity can also lead to shooting pains in the legs.

One of the most common causes of shooting leg pain is associated with bone disorders. Bone disorders can range in scope from conditions as simple as broken or fractured bones, to those as serious as bone cancer or a herniated disk. Unfortunately, pinpointing the point of origin of a bone disorder can be difficult because these conditions often cause radiating pain from the toes to the hips. Individuals who experience such symptoms may best work with an orthopedist in order to successfully diagnose and treat the condition.

Circulatory problems are another common cause of shooting pains in the legs. Atherosclerosis, which is a condition characterized by blockages in the arteries and veins, can lead to a painful condition known as claudication. This causes sharp, shooting pain during long periods of walking and can lead to deterioration of strength and fitness levels. In addition, other similar disorders of the circulatory system, such as varicose veins and blood clots, can also lead to such pain. Often, these conditions require surgery or other forms of complicated treatment in order to relieve the symptoms.

Certain muscle disorders have also been linked to the development of shooting leg pain. Some of these conditions include inflammation of the tendons (tendinitis), strained or torn muscles, and other similar disorders. Often, these conditions result in targeted pain that occurs primarily around a joint, such as the ankle, knee, or hip. Unfortunately, the only way to treat these disorders is long periods of rest and stabilization.

Both intense exercise and a significant lack of physical activity are commonly linked to shooting leg pain as well. Exercising for an excessive period of time can often result in shin splits, for example. This is a painful condition that causes sharp, shooting pain in the front of the lower leg. Shin splints are most often caused by intense or lengthy periods of running on an extremely hard surface, such as concrete or cement. Likewise, inactivity can often lead to plaque buildup in blood vessels and arterial walls, which can lead to such painful conditions as muscle cramping and shooting pains as well as more serious conditions, such as strokes and heart attacks.

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Discussion Comments
By myharley — On May 13, 2011

@golf07 - I can't speak for most people, but I can speak for myself! I am middle aged, and have always had some shooting type pains that have only lasted a quick second. I have experienced them in just about every part of my body, not just my legs.

As a child I had some leg muscle pain at night, and figured it was "growing pains". It must have been, because I do not have them anymore.

There is never any rhyme or reason why or when these quick, sharp pains happen. They are over almost as soon as they begin. I don't think they are all that uncommon. My mom has the same thing happen to her.

By golf07 — On May 11, 2011

I have shooting leg pain every so often. It usually lasts only a few seconds and then is gone. It never happens twice in a row, and not very often. I don't have any kind of chronic leg pain, so have not got it checked out.

Are quick, shooting pains like this something that most people experience?

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