Upper thigh pain: What you should know

Because there are so many muscles, tendons, and ligaments in this area of the body, diagnosing pain in the upper thigh can be tricky.

This type of discomfort is frequently caused by small muscular injuries that may be treated at home. However, if the pain is severe or does not go away, it might indicate a more serious condition.

In this post, we’ll look at some of the most prevalent causes of upper thigh discomfort, as well as any symptoms that may accompany them. We also discuss treatment choices and ways to avoid this sort of discomfort.

Causes

Muscle injuries

Muscle injuries, nerve disorders, and a few other diseases can cause upper thigh pain.

Nerve pain

Nerves in the upper thigh can also cause pain in certain people. Nerve pain develops when the nerves are damaged. Even when there isn’t a physical damage to the thigh, this might cause discomfort.

Nerve pain can come in a variety of forms, including:

Peripheral neuropathy

Nerve injury that causes discomfort is known as peripheral neuropathy. Other illnesses, such as diabetes, are frequently to blame.

Burning, numbness, prickly feelings, and shooting pains are some of the unique symptoms that people with this discomfort may experience in their thighs and elsewhere.

Meralgia paresthetica

Bernhardt-Roth syndrome is another name for meralgia paresthetica. This unpleasant sensation can be caused by damage to or pressure on the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve, a nerve that influences feeling on the outside of the thigh.

This pain can be described as searing or shooting, and it might induce numbness in the upper thigh and hips on a regular condition.

Muscle injuries

Pain in the upper thigh is frequently caused by a muscular injury due to the huge number of muscles in this location. The following are some of the most prevalent muscle injuries in this area:

Muscle sprains and strains

Sprains and strains can injure any of the thigh’s many muscles, ligaments, and tendons.

A sprain occurs when a ligament is damaged or strained. Ligaments are the connective tissue that holds bones together.

A strained muscle or tendon is one that has been ripped or stretched. Tendons are the tendons that link muscles to bones.

A strain or sprain can cause the following symptoms:

  • difficulty stretching or moving the thigh
  • swelling around the painful area
  • sudden pain following a fall, an intense workout, or an overstretched joint
  • pain that spreads (radiates) up or down

Injuries from overuse

When a muscle in or around the thigh is pushed too hard for too long, or when a person does not warm up before exercising, overuse injuries can arise.

With time, the discomfort tends to worsen. Even after a person rests the damaged region, the pain may return.

Pain after exercise or vigorous physical activity is the most common symptom of an overuse injury. Both thighs may be affected.

Sedentary lifestyle

Muscle injury can result from not doing enough exercise or spending too much time sitting each day, resulting in persistent discomfort.

Long durations of sitting can impose strain on the joints and muscles, especially in the hips and legs. Muscles may weaken as a result of inactivity, resulting in widespread muscular soreness.

People who suffer from upper thigh discomfort as a result of a sedentary lifestyle may experience pain all over their body. The pain may migrate or alter in severity over time, and some people with this form of pain may have chronic pain all over their bodies.

Radiating pain from another injury

Pain in the upper thighs might be caused by injuries in other parts of the body. A hip injury, for example, may cause pain in the legs.

Some injuries alter a person’s walking pattern, leading them to unconsciously tense their muscles. This might result in thigh and leg discomfort. It’s possible that discomfort in neighboring locations, such as the hips or knees, is causing a person’s thighs to suffer.

Other causes

Minor injuries

Even though a bruise is not apparent, it can be quite painful. This type of pain is usually throbbing and localized.

Pain from a small injury, such as a bruise, usually does not spread to other parts of the body.

Chronic conditions

Pain in the upper thigh can be caused by a variety of chronic diseases. Fibromyalgia people suffer from persistent broad pain at specific pressure spots. Leg discomfort is common above the knees and on the backs of the upper thighs.

Arthritis can cause discomfort in several parts of the body, including the thighs. Osteoarthritis pain is usually focused in the hip and knee joints, although it can also radiate down or up.

Blood clots

A blood clot in a blood artery might cause pain in the upper thigh on rare occasions. This painful condition, also known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT), can be life-threatening if the clot breaks loose and spreads to the lungs, heart, or brain.

People flying for long amounts of time, are sedentary for long periods of time, have poor circulation, smoke, have cardiovascular disease, are pregnant, or are overweight are at an increased risk of getting DVT.

Among the signs and symptoms are:

  • tenderness in a specific spot on the leg
  • pain when walking
  • unexplained pain in a leg that does not get better after a few days
  • shortness of breath when a clot breaks loose and moves to the heart and then to the lungs (pulmonary embolus)
  • swelling, redness, or heat along a leg vein

A blood clot is a medical emergency that must be treated right away.

Pain in several parts of the thigh

Pain can extend to the front, sides, and back of the thigh at causes, and each cause may be distinct.

Outside of the thigh

Sciatica, or pain radiating from a trapped nerve in the third vertebrae of the lower back (L3), can cause pain to radiate to the outside of the thigh.

Back of the thigh

Pain in the back of the thigh might be caused by hamstring injuries or sprains.

The thigh’s front

L3 sciatica can also cause discomfort in the front of the thigh. A quadriceps strain or bruising can also create pain in this region.

Risk factors

Upper thigh discomfort includes a variety of causes and risk factors. The following are some of the risk factors:

  • poor circulation
  • a history of injuries to the legs or hips
  • chronic medical conditions, such as diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis
  • taking part in sports
  • a sedentary lifestyle

Diagnosis

There is no one test that can determine the source of upper thigh discomfort.

An examination of the region is generally the first step. In addition, the doctor will conduct a thorough medical history and inquire about any recent injuries.

Diagnostic testing may be used if the doctor cannot uncover an evident cause:

  • magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT) scans to view the muscles
  • X-rays to check the bones
  • ultrasound imaging to check for blood clots
  • blood tests to assess for medical conditions such as arthritis
  • joint aspiration, a procedure that involves removing fluid from a joint to check for certain joint problems
  • nerve tests, such as nerve conduction studies and electromyography

Treatment 

physical therapy
Upper thigh pain can be treated with physical therapy and mild exercise.

The reason of upper thigh discomfort determines the treatment.

Rest, heat, ice, compression, elevation, and light massage are common home treatments for minor injuries.

Other alternatives for therapy include:

  • physical therapy
  • diabetes medications to prevent further nerve damage
  • blood thinners if there is a blood clot in the leg
  • alternative treatments, such as massage therapy, chiropractic, and acupuncture
  • pain relief medication for unexplained chronic pain
  • medication for chronic conditions, such as fibromyalgia and arthritis
  • surgery to repair damaged or trapped nerves
  • physical and exercise therapy
  • surgery to repair damaged muscles, tendons, or ligaments

Complications

Pain in the upper thigh may worsen if left untreated. It can also spread to other parts of the body, making movement difficult and resulting in persistent pain.

The most serious effect is if a blood clot forms in the leg. These blood clots can break free and create an embolism, which is a blockage of an artery.

In a matter of minutes, an embolism can be deadly. A person should consult a doctor if leg pain is severe, develops out of nowhere, or does not resolve within a few days.

Prevention

The following are some suggestions for preventing upper thigh pain:

  • working with a personal trainer to determine a healthful level of activity that will not lead to overuse injuries
  • managing and treating medical conditions, such as diabetes and arthritis
  • remaining physically active
  • taking frequent stretching breaks during extended periods of sitting
  • stretching before and after exercise

Conclusion

The majority of upper thigh pain is curable.

Getting a diagnosis is the most difficult aspect of dealing with pain in this part of the body. It may take multiple visits to different doctors to figure out what’s causing the pain.

However, not every pain is easily addressed. People suffering from unexplained chronic pain may need to try a variety of therapies before finding one that helps. Most people, however, may heal from upper thigh pain with consistent therapy.

Sources:

  • https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/deep-vein-thrombosis
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10903608
  • https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321001
  • https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Darshan_Shastri/publication/302594378_
  • https://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/pain-management/understanding/types-of-pain.php
  • https://nzihf.ac.nz/fitness-training/sprains-vs-strains/

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