Aching Legs at Night: 6 Causes You Might Not Know About

Many patients complain about their aching legs at night. If you have aching legs when lying down, it is easy to feel frustrated because you feel pain while trying to have a restful sleep at night. For this reason, it also affects your performance in your daytime activities.


Although your legs carry the weight of your body almost all the time, it doesn’t mean that you should suffer from pain and debilitate your daily functioning and sleep. You don’t deserve it, especially if your feet play a significant role in your life.


If your aching legs affect your sleep quality and you don’t know the reason for the pain, get to know more about the possible causes and treatments you can do to alleviate your aches.


Causes of Leg Pain at Night

There are plenty of possible reasons for your leg pain at night. It can be due to simple or serious reasons. Learn what they are, and seek immediate medical attention.



Leg pain due to gout commonly occurs at night. It happens when the uric acid crystals build up in your joints, which tend to happen overnight. As a result, your body will alarm you that something is wrong in the form of pain.


Experts can’t find out the reasons for this overnight uric acid crystals buildup, but the following are the most probable causes:

  • Breathing changes
  • Drop in the body’s temperature and cortisone levels
  • Dehydration

Peripheral Artery Disease

Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) refers to a circulatory disorder with reduced blood flow to the extremities (most commonly the legs or feet) due to the blocked arteries. The lack of blood circulation causes leg pain on either one side or both legs, typically in the calves. The pain is also present if you engage in physical activity and eases down when you stop.


Although leg pain usually persists during activity, throbbing leg pain is also possible when lying down at night. If it happens, it is a sign that the PAD is in its worst state. There might be a severe blockage in your legs’ arteries, also known as critical limb ischemia (CLI).


Atherosclerosis is responsible for PAD. It happens when fat and cholesterol deposits build up within the arteries, also known as plaque. Plaque buildup in the arteries causes thickening of blood vessels that restricts the blood flow, leading to heart attack or PAD.


PAD can lead to severe conditions. that may lead to limb amputation or death.


Although it isn’t clear exactly what causes atherosclerosis, many doctors and scientists believe that plaque forms due to the following:

  • Obesity
  • Cardiovascular disorder
  • Ageing
  • Diabetes
  • High cholesterol
  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure

Varicose Veins

The primary role of your veins is to serve as a blood pump. Sitting or standing for long periods leads to poor blood circulation, causing varicose veins, then leg pain.


When you have this condition, your veins become enlarged, twisted, and swollen, creating an ugly worm-like appearance on your thighs, legs, and feet. It is because the veins aren’t working as efficiently as they should.


Over time, your leg pressure may increase due to weak vein walls and leaky valves, causing aching legs at night.


Leg Cramps

Heavy aching legs and fatigue can be a sign of leg cramps. Leg cramps, also known as Charley horses, are uncontrolled leg muscle spasms. They commonly occur in the calves but may also affect the thighs and feet.


Leg cramps are common. However, they can cause discomfort, severe pain, and tightness in the affected area, disrupting your sleep.


Leg cramps can be due to many reasons, which are the following:

  • Old age
  • Pregnancy
  • Body position
  • Medication side effects
  • Overworked legs
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Other medical conditions (diabetes, kidney failure, flat feet, etc.)

Nerve Issues

Your aching legs at night might be due to nerve issues brought by the following:

  • Physical trauma
  • Lupus
  • Arthritis
  • Sciatica
  • Diabetic neuropathy

But sometimes, pain is due to the compression of the nerves due to poor body positioning while asleep.


Tiredness and aching legs are common for pregnant women due to the increased blood volume and additional strain placed in your body as you gain more weight.


Besides that, the uterus also puts extra pressure on the veins responsible for carrying blood back from your lower extremities. This condition blocks some blood flow and keeps fluid in your lower limbs, causing your aching legs at night.


How Can You Stop Your Legs From Aching at Night?

The best cure for an ailment is prevention. While getting appropriate treatment, change your lifestyle too. If you are a smoker, quit smoking. If you have high cholesterol, eat more healthy foods, especially those low in saturated fat.


Exercise regularly. Ask your doctor which training is the most appropriate for you. Although exercise is good, there are forms of it that might be bad for you, depending on your condition.


The following suggestions will help ease the pain for your aching legs at night. But ask a podiatrist for the proper treatments to learn and whether or not the following remedies will be beneficial to you.


Home remedies for leg pain at night may help ease the pain but are not the best treatment for you. You learned in the previous section that aching legs have many possible causes. It is vital to get a proper diagnosis before you turn to a home remedy.


Home remedies are not permanent solutions. As you would notice, leg pain is a common symptom of a more serious underlying health issue. Seek professional help to get proper treatment because it is the only way to get your legs to stop aching permanently.


If you visit The Footwork Clinic, you’ll receive the treatment that’s best for your condition. These treatments can be one of the following:

  • Foot mobilisation techniques
  • Western medical acupuncture
  • Low-level laser therapy
  • Trigenics functional muscle neurology
  • Instrument assisted soft tissue mobilisation
  • Custom foot orthoses
  • Active release techniques
  • InterX neurostimulation therapy
  • Corrective or rehabilitation exercise
  • Kinesiology sports taping.

When Should You Be Concerned About Leg Pain?

If you’re experiencing recurring leg pain at night, you should start to investigate as aching legs at night are typically just the tip of the iceberg. Meaning there might be a more severe underlying issue that’s causing your pain.


Get a proper diagnosis right away to prevent these issues from getting worse. Ask help from a podiatrist today. Contact the Footwork Clinic and schedule your appointment right away.

Director | Rehabilitation or Rehab / Sports Podiatrist,

Foot Mobilisation & Trigenics® Lower Limb Practitioner, Movement Restoration Coach (MRC™), Strength and Conditioning Coach

Is Pain Impacting Your Life?

You don’t need to live like this. Let us help you!

The Footwork Clinic, situated in Chatswood on Sydney’s North Shore and Sydney CBD, is there to help should you have an injury or condition that you think would benefit from heat or ice treatment. They offer advanced manual therapies and a holistic and corrective care approach, with a proven track record of success in resolving acute and chronic conditions, and they will gladly offer advice to get you on the road to recovery as soon as possible.

For further information, visit the The Footwork Clinic – Leading Sports, Podiatry, Foot And Lower Limb Corrective Services to book online, or call Mark Lin or his friendly team on +61 2 9131 6891.

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The information contained in this guide is provided in good faith and is not intended to be nor is it to be used as a substitute for any sort of professional, medical or podiatric advice. An accurate diagnosis can only be made following personal consultation with a podiatrist. Any users should always seek the advice of their podiatrist, or other qualified healthcare providers before commencing any treatment.

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