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“Why Does My Leg Hurt When I Wake Up” | (Causes + Solutions)

If you ask yourself, “Why does my leg hurt when I wake up?”, you are not alone. This is a common occurrence. Fortunately, there are some answers. While the severity of this pesky pain can vary depending on lifestyle and medical history, the bottom line is you deserve to find the cause and the proper remedy for these aches. 


Read below to explore various reasons for leg aches in the mornings, solutions for these pains, home pain treatments, and additional guidelines for when medical interventions are appropriate to assist with pain management and healing. 

Our goal is to make the answers in this article as simple and digestible as possible. So hopefully you can gain direction on the next steps you should take to minimize your leg pain.

Reasons for Leg Aches in the Morning

While there are many possible reasons for your pain, it is wise to consider some of the most prevalent culprits for morning leg aches. Many reasons listed below are simple issues that have easy solutions. 

1. Lack of Movement During Day


Life is hectic and can sometimes leave us in an inactive state for much of our days. An inactive lifestyle can be the cause of your morning leg aches. If you frequently sit down throughout the day doing office work on the computer, drive in the car, or watch television at home, sleeping will be an additional time when your legs will not get adequate movement. 

With this considered, you are more likely to feel the negative impacts of inactivity in the morning due to the extra prolonged period of nonmovement during the night. It is worth noting that elderly or obese individuals are most at risk for having this be the cause of leg pain.

There are some solutions if you believe this is the cause of your pain. If you are able, intentionally integrate exercise or movement time into your day. A standing desk or taking breaks to stretch during work or car rides to ensure that your body is getting the proper movement will help.

Another effective solution for exercise is the A-B-C routine. This exercise method focuses on areas prone to stiffness: shoulders, legs, and the back. 

2. Dehydration 


Dehydration, or inadequate water intake, can result in morning leg pains. This cause is from not enough fluids in your body’s system and results in constrictive body movements. This constrictive body movement progresses to leg cramps and aches. 

If you are experiencing morning leg aches and are not getting enough water, you should focus on your hydration. To ensure adequate hydration, avoid sugary beverages since they will increase your insulin levels and do more harm than good for your health. 

If you are searching for an option besides regular water, consider flavored sports drinks that contain electrolytes for intense hydration. 

To ensure adequate hydration, also concentrate on appropriate food options. Produce, both fruits and vegetables, are high in water content and will help increase your intake of fluids. Some examples of produce include apples, melons, and celery.

3. Insufficient Nutrients 


Lack of sufficient nutrients can be a culprit for morning leg pain. Similar to lack of water intake, insufficient nutrients in your body’s system will restrict your body from functioning and cause aches in the legs. The most common nutrient deficiencies that cause these pains include potassium, magnesium, and calcium. 

To get sufficient nutrients into your daily diet, you can incorporate foods rich in these essentials. Foods that contain lots of potassium include beans, potatoes, spinach, and avocados. In addition, brown rice, peanut butter, and almonds are good sources of magnesium. Lastly, foods rich in calcium include cheese, salmon, and yogurt. 

If you feel you have a healthy diet that gives you adequate nutrients, it is wise to take multivitamins for added support. While these should not replace a healthy meal plan, multivitamins can assist with helping you fill in those gaps within your diet. 

4. Poor Blood Circulation


You may suffer from poor blood circulation if you have morning leg aches. The condition for this is commonly called peripheral artery disease. With peripheral artery disease, you will have a build-up of plaque in the artery walls found in your legs. The sticky, unhealthy build-up will result in abnormal leg function and aches. 

Some factors might put you at risk for peripheral artery disease. Examples of these factors include those with diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and a history of smoking. If any of these examples are in your medical history, consult your doctor. 

Some solutions for poor blood circulation, or peripheral artery disease, include increased exercise, healthy diet changes, and appropriate medications prescribed by your doctor. 

5. Uncomfortable Mattress


If your leg pain primarily occurs after long periods of laying down in your bed, you may want to consider if your mattress is the issue. An uncomfortable or old mattress can impact the pressure points on your body and cause aches once you awaken. 

If you believe your mattress needs to be updated, look into the different types and choose one that will work best for you, or purchase a new bed topper. 

When looking for a solution, consider pressure relief. The construction and material associated with the mattress or bed topper make pressure relief possible. There are several different mattress types and materials to think over. To get a proper mattress to alleviate pain, you can perform a pressure relief test from sleep experts. 

6. Varicose Veins


Varicose veins are enlarged, twisted, and protrude from the skin. In addition to their appearance, varicose veins will appear blue and purple. 

If you have these on your legs, this may answer your question, “Why does my leg hurt when I wake up?” The pressure these veins cause in your leg will result in the ache and pain felt in the morning. You may also have continued leg pain immediately after getting up when walking around. 

There are some remedies for leg pains caused by varicose veins. Some examples of solutions include exercise, compression stockings, laser treatments, vein stripping, and sclerotherapy. It is essential to consult with your doctor about the appropriate treatments since the severities of varicose veins can vary widely.  

7. Other Serious Causes


While your cause for leg pain may be one of the factors listed above, it is essential to remember other potential culprits with serious risks. With the varied risk for other causes considered, speak with a medical professional if you believe your pain is too extreme. 

Achilles tendinitis, bursitis, chronic exertional compartment syndrome, claudication, and deep vein thrombosis are additional morning leg pain causes. The various treatment options for these conditions range from physical therapy, lifestyle changes, medications, and surgery. 

Morning Leg Ache Treatments at Home?

If you have woken up with leg aches and need a quick treatment option that you can access from home, there are some options. Read below for treatments known to help alleviate the pain of aching legs. 

1. Get Plenty of Rest

If you wake up with painful leg aches, stay in bed, and rest, if possible. Getting plenty of rest may give your legs time to heal. Additionally, staying in bed and limiting walking may help avoid worsened pain. 

2. Apply Ice to the Pained Areas

If you decide to apply ice to your pained areas, it is best to do it for a 15-minute duration, four times a day. Depending on the culprit for the leg pain, the ice may assist with reducing inflammation and swelling that might be present. Additionally, the ice will numb the achy area and decrease the pain level. 

3. Massage Legs 

By messaging your legs with slick oil, such as coconut or olive oil, the muscles in your achy legs will soon feel relaxed. The increase in muscle relaxation will reduce future soreness and might alleviate your pain entirely. 

4. Elevate, Elevate, Elevate

Propping your achy legs on a chair or pillows after waking up will help lower your pain level. Elevating your legs works by directing blood flow away from the painful area. This decrease in blood flow will reduce instances of inflammation and swelling.  

5. Take Pain Medication 

When you are at home and need quick relief from leg aches, you can take an over-the-counter pain medication such as ibuprofen and Tylenol. Ensure that the pain medication does not interfere with any other medical condition you might have before taking it. 

When Should You Visit a Medical Professional for Your Pain?

If your condition starts to become extremely painful or if the appearance of your legs changes drastically, you should visit a medical professional. Below are instances where a doctor’s visit would be deemed necessary. 

1. Daily Activities Worsen Pain 

If you consistently wake up with aches in your legs and your daily activities seem to worsen the pain, you may need to reach out to a medical professional. 

Pain that restricts you from living your life should not be ignored or deemed normal. Instead, this pain is likely a cause of an underlying health condition that might need medical treatments besides the above home remedies. 

2. You Have a Fever

If a fever frequently accompanies your morning leg aches, you should consider the possibility of an infection. To receive proper treatment, talk to your doctor and see if prescription medication is what you need to get better.  

3. Leg Is Swollen or Red

Like a fever, an infection can cause a swollen or red leg. Your leg likely has fluid buildup, also known as peripheral edema. An underlying issue could also cause a red and swollen leg in the morning. Examples of underlying problems include circulation and cardiac issues. With these risks, it is vital to contact medical professionals. 

4. Pain Medications Do Not Help

If you take over-the-counter medication to help alleviate the pain caused by your achy legs in the morning and it does not help, this is a telltale sign that the issue is severe. To ensure you receive proper treatment—medication, surgery, or therapy—speak with your doctor. 

5. Pain Is Continually Impacting Your Sleep Schedule

If you continuously woke up in the early hours of the day with pains in your leg, you should contact medical professionals. Pain that disrupts a necessity, such as sleep, should not be considered normal. Your doctor can point you in the right direction to ensure an unimpacted sleep schedule due to your pain. 


Here are some frequently asked questions about leg aches in the morning.

Can a lack of exercise cause leg aches in the morning? 

Yes, lack of exercise can cause leg aches in the morning. So, if you have a lifestyle where you frequently sit down, try to implement stretches or workout sessions into your daily life to alleviate this issue. 

What multivitamins are best to prevent leg aches?

Multivitamins that will help prevent instances of leg aches are those that are rich in potassium, calcium, and magnesium. Ensure that these vitamins are not replacing a nutritious meal plan. 

What are the solutions for poor blood circulation in the legs? 

The solution for poor blood circulation varies depending on the severity of your condition. With this considered, some remedy examples for poor blood circulation, or peripheral artery disease, include increased exercise, healthy diet changes, and appropriate medications prescribed by your doctor. 

Can an old mattress cause leg aches in the morning? 

Yes, an old mattress can cause leg aches. This is because an old mattress can disrupt your body’s alignment and have improper pressure points. To avoid pain, replace either your bed topper or the mattress entirely. 

How does dehydration cause leg pain? 

Dehydration, or an inadequate amount of water intake, can result in leg pains. This cause is from insufficient fluids in your body’s system and results in constrictive body movements. This results in leg cramps and aches. To hydrate swiftly, drink lots of water, eat lots of produce, and avoid sugary drinks.

Wrapping Up 

The leg pain you feel in the morning should not be normalized in your life. After reviewing the information above, you can understand that the causes and solutions are many. Review the causes and treatment options above and consider which is the probable cause of your pain. 

When you ask yourself, “Why does my leg hurt when I wake up?” contemplate if you need professional help. If you believe your pain is not manageable without medical help, do not hesitate to reach out and get the quality care you deserve. 

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