Why do my legs ache at night and could it be a warning sign of vascular disease

ACHING legs at night can just be a sign that you did a lot of exercise and worked hard that day.

But they shouldn't hurt regularly, with this indicating something more serious is going on in your body.

It could suggest you have heart problems, clots or bone problems.

If you find yourself suffering with achy legs during the nights for a few days running, without any obvious causes like exercise or pregnancy, it might be worth looking into.

Vascular disease

It is caused by a build-up of fatty deposits in the walls of the leg arteries. They then narrow the arteries and restricts blood flow to the legs.

This causes not enough blood to get to your feet, which then makes your leg muscles hurt.

This can be alleviated by hanging your legs over the side of the bed, or standing up, and sending blood back down to the feet.

The pain from this condition can be on one or both sides and is usually in the calves.

It can also come on during activities, with smokers, diabetics, obese and elderly people more at risk from developing peripheral arterial disease.

Symptoms also include hair loss on your legs and feet, numbness or weakness in the legs, brittle, slow-growing toenails, ulcers on your feet and legs which do not heal, changing skin colour, shiny skin, erectile dysfunction or the muscles in your legs shrinking.

If you are experiencing reoccurring leg painor the above symptoms, go and see your GP.

Blood clots

Blood clots often happen in people who have been travelling, especially if it involved a long flight or sitting for a while.

Common symptoms include redness, throbbing or cramping pain and localised warmth and swelling.

If you have any of these symptoms, contact a doctor.


While unpleasant and shocking while trying to sleep, you could simply be having cramps.

Even turning over in bed can set off a muscle spasm, especially if you haven't drunk enough water or taken in enough salts in the day.

Make sure you are staying hydrated to avoid this painful problem, and if you do suffer from cramp – stretching, while uncomfortable, is the key to making it stop.

Nerve pain

Sleeping in a particular position might mean you compress a nerve, which might be the reason why you wake up in pain.

It can just be a one off thing, but nerve pain can also be linked to conditions.

Neuropathies are one such link – they cause damage to the nerve, which changes sensations.

Moving can help with nerve pain, and can encourage the muscles to warm up which eases symptoms.

It's nothing to be too concerned about, and is more uncomfortable than life-threatening.


This causes pain and swelling around the joints.

It is triggered by a chemical reaction which leaves urate crystals in the joint.

It can flare up if you've had foods that are high in purine, such as beer, red wine or cheese.

Gout usually needs specific medicine to tackle the symptoms, so if you think you might have it go and see your GP.

Bone fracture

If you are having aching legs both at night and in the day, you may have a bone fracture.

You would likely know when you might have suffered the injury however, and should go and seek medical help to prevent any complications.

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