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Shooting Pain in Leg

Nicks J Jan 22, 2019
Shooting pain in leg that is akin to experiencing an electric shock that often occurs due to pinched sciatic nerve located in the lower back. Nerve damage due to uncontrolled diabetes or fracture can also lead to radiating pain from the leg.
Ouch! This is the most common response of a person to shooting pain in leg. It is an unusual sensation, similar to burning or tingling feeling that is more prominent in the calf muscles. Many times, the problem is not in the leg and is the result of an underlying condition such as sciatica.

Reasons for Tingling Sensation in the Leg

Poor Blood Circulation

Sitting in one position for a long time, which is common during long distance flight, can certainly bring sharp pain in the leg. This is because, when a person sits for too long without moving the leg, it can affect normal blood flow in the leg. This low blood circulation in the leg often causes pain.
However, this type of leg pain is not a cause for worry and vanishes as soon as the leg is set in motion.


As we all know, sciatic nerve is the longest of all nerves in our body. This is because the sciatic nerve originates from the lower part of the back and runs all the way down to the thighs of each leg and finally ends at the feet. The sciatic nerve supplies sensation to the leg.
When a small portion of sciatic nerve gets compressed (pinched sciatic nerve) or inflamed due to health issues like 'slipped disc', the condition is called sciatica and causes aching back and leg. The discs are tissues placed between 2 bones of the spine, a stack of individual bones that support the back and cover a bundle of nerves originating from brain.
When any of these discs protrude from their normal position, an excessive pressure is put on the nearby nerve. When slipped disc occurs in the lower back, it is likely to affect the sciatic nerve. More specifically, the portion of sciatic nerve where the disc has protruded, gets compressed, leading to numbness or tingling feeling in one or both the legs.

Uncontrolled Diabetes

Diabetic patients ignoring diet and lifestyle recommendations are certainly making matters worse for them. Poorly controlled diabetes in which blood sugar levels continue to rise gradually, well above the normal range, is likely to cause complications like peripheral neuropathy.
As blood flows through the nerves, too much sugar in the blood often damages the nerves. In peripheral neuropathy, the nerves that supply sensation to the hands and feet are damaged. No wonder, persistent numbness or an unusual sensation around the peripheral areas of the body is a common complaint in patients with poorly managed diabetes.
In case, the painful sensation is confined to the thighs, it indicates that the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve of the thigh is damaged.

Peripheral Vascular Disease

In this condition, the blood vessels of the peripheral parts of the body (ankles, feet, legs and hand) constrict, thereby disrupting the normal blood flow. The decrease in blood circulation reduces the flow of nutrients to the leg muscles. Now, the nutrients provide energy to the muscles, which helps to perform day-to-day activities.
Thus, poor blood circulation makes them ill-equipped to handle any kind of physical activity such as walking and running. As a result, sharp shooting pain from leg muscles is common in people suffering from peripheral vascular disease.
Diabetes, formation of blood clots, atherosclerosis (hardening of the peripheral arteries) and bacterial infections that damage blood vessels are some of the factors that narrow the blood vessels.


A fractured bone in the leg due to a physical injury can also trigger tingling pain. A broken fracture may irritate and even damage the nearby nerve, forcing it to send pain signals to the brain. This is how we feel the pain when a bone is damaged.

Physical Injury

Leg trauma such as sports injury or an accident that damages the ligaments, muscles or the joints causes stabbing or sharp shooting pain. Apart from moderate to severe pain, the injured area appears bruised (discolored skin) and swollen.


Shooting pain in leg calf, is also an indication of fibromyalgia. Recent reports suggest that fibromyalgia has been diagnosed in approximately 6 million Americans. Fibromyalgia triggers symptoms, similar to arthritis, meaning muscle and joint pain that is prevalent all over the body.
The muscles, tendons and ligaments of the leg, especially, the calf muscles radiate pain that may lead to disturbed sleep and chronic fatigue. Intermittent episodes of heavy aching in the leg, is something that is related to fibromyalgia, which may even last for a couple of years.


Although pregnancy is fine, the side effects of being pregnant are not so fine. Aches and pains are frequent during pregnancy. Excess weight gain associated with pregnancy puts extra strain and pressure on the calf muscles, which can lead to leg cramps.
The leg cramps often trigger radiating pain from the calf, thigh or the foot. Sciatic nerve pain during pregnancy has also been reported in many women. The growing baby in the womb, is likely to place excessive strain on the sciatic nerve, which may manifest in the form of sharp shooting pain in leg.

Crohn's Disease

It's a disease related to the digestive tract, in which the lining of the intestine is swollen and causes diarrhea. Although, the inflammation occurs in the small and the large intestine, the pain is not restricted to the abdomen and can be experienced anywhere in the body.
Cramps in the calf area that last for a few minutes are common in these patients. In severe cases of Crohn's disease, rectal bleeding takes place, that is often accompanied by leg and lower back pain.
After determining the root cause, the doctor will suggest an appropriate treatment to alleviate pain. Stretching exercises, physical therapy and intake of muscle relaxants are some of the effective ways to get rid of this leg discomfort.