How to Stop Pain in the Upper Legs


According to their reference material "Thigh Pain,", a popular resource for sports injury professionals, upper leg pain can be caused by any number of problems, depending on the location. However, most pain is usually tendon- or muscle-related. Treatment to stop upper leg or thigh pain usually includes a combination of rest, ice, heat, medication and exercise.

Man clutching leg in pain.
(shakzu/iStock/Getty Images)

Things You'll Need

  • Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve)
  • Ice
  • Ice pack (or 1 hand towel and 1 bath towel)
  • Heating pad
Step 1

Stop all physical activity and exercise involving the upper thighs immediately. Rest your leg for a few days and stay off your feet. Take 2 ibuprofen or naproxen pills every 4-6 hours. Continue to take either anti-inflammatory medicine until your inflammation and pain are gone.

Ibuprofen with a glass of water.
Petri Suominen/iStock/Getty Images
Step 2

Put ice in an ice pack or hand towel. Strap or tie the ice pack or hand towel (with the larger towel) on your leg so that the ice is compressed directly against the area where your leg hurts. Repeat this procedure every 3-4 hours while you are awake until initial inflammation and pain have been substantially reduced.

Applying ice pack to leg.
Spike Mafford/Photodisc/Getty Images
Step 3

Once your inflammation and pain are under control, use a heating pad on your leg several times throughout the day.

Hot water bottle.
Hemera Technologies/ Images
Step 4

About the time you start using the heating pad, perform one of the following exercises, depending on the nature of your injury: If your pain is on the inside area of your thigh, lie on your back, bend your knees and place both feet on the floor. Grab the inside of each thigh and slowly spread your legs and stretch your inside thigh and groin muscles. Hold this position for 15-30 seconds, then relax. Repeat the movement 3 times.

Man helping woman raise legs after injury.
Wavebreakmedia Ltd/Wavebreak Media/Getty Images
Step 5

If you have outer thigh pain, lie on the floor and cross both legs by placing the injured thigh over the knee of your other thigh. Grab the bottom of your knee (the one on top) and pull your leg toward your chest. Hold that position for 15-30 seconds, then relax. Do 3 total sets of this exercise. Finally, if the pain is in back of your leg, put one leg forward and keep your injured leg back about 12 inches. Keep both knees slightly bent. Slowly straighten your rear leg and stretch your hamstring. Hold that position for 15-30 seconds, then relax. Repeat 3 times.

Woman on floor stretching legs.
Wavebreakmedia Ltd/Wavebreak Media/Getty Images

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Tips & Warnings

  • Make sure you ice your upper leg during the first 48-72 hours after the onset of pain. This will help reduce the initial swelling and inflammation. Ice causes vasoconstriction (narrowing of blood vessels), which minimizes inflammation by limiting the flow of blood and lymph fluid to the affected area. Once the initial inflammation and pain are under control, heat will promote blood flow (with healing properties such as oxygen and vitamin C) to the upper leg. Massage and exercise also increase blood flow to muscles and joints. Additionally, massage can reduce scar tissue, which is a major cause of recurring injuries. It also relaxes the nerves and muscles. Exercise can increase flexibility and add more stability to your leg.
  • Do not let upper leg pain continue if any of the treatments above fail to relieve your symptoms. See your doctor as some leg pain can be caused by more serious conditions.


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