Pain In the Back of the Thigh – Causes & Treatments

pain in the back of thigh

Pain in the back of the thigh can be quite problematic – after all, you are less likely to walk normally, as you experience painful sensations. The issue may arise while you walk, climb stairs or run. Sometimes, the reason is quite obvious – a trauma or an injury. Other times, it may look like the pain comes out of nowhere.


There are more causes associated with this pain. Understanding them can help you find the right treatment.

1. Pinched nerve in the back

A pinched spinal nerve may cause all kinds of pain. When associated with arthritis or herniated lumbar discs, the pain occurs due to the pressure on the spinal column. Moreover, the pain can travel down the thigh, despite the fact that it normally occurs in the lower back at first.

Symptoms are quite diversified. The pain can also occur in the front of the thigh, but it may come with tingling sensations and numbness as well. Weakness in the thigh is just as common, not to mention facing difficulties while trying to stand up or sit down.

You know you have a pinched nerve in the back if the thigh pain changes in intensity based on the position of your back.

2. Spinal stenosis

Spinal stenosis is another issue that may cause pain in the back of thigh – a degenerative disease that tends to get worse in the long run. Most patients are over 40 years old. The condition implies too much pressure on the spinal nerves. They end up compressed as a result of this wear and tear.

Symptoms include pain in both thighs and legs. Heaviness and numbness will also occur. Keep in mind that spinal stenosis will cause pain in both thighs. It is more common while you stand up or walk. If you sit down, the pain is almost immediately gone.

3. Injury or trauma

Injuries and traumas are painful and pretty obvious when trying to identify the cause of your thigh pains. There are quite a few nerves running down the thigh, so most injuries will cause some sort of pain. Symptoms can include pain in the back of the front. Physical activity will make it more intense – bruising is just as common.

Bruising should improve after a few days. If it continues to worsen, make sure you seek help from a specialist doctor.

4. Hamstring tendonitis

Both hamstring and quadriceps tendonitis can cause pain in the back of thigh. The issue is caused by constant stress on the thigh muscles. The pain is more common just above the knee, but it may also come close to the hip. Climbing stairs and walking will be quite difficult, while overall muscular weakness will inevitably kick in too.

These symptoms may persist for a month to two months. They tend to get better with physical activity, but stick to gentle exercises only.

Other causes associated with the thigh pain include iliotibial band friction syndrome, strokes and blood clots. These cases are quite rare and less likely to affect you. A trauma or a pinched nerve are usually the main reasons wherefore you may experience pain in the back of your thighs.

back thigh massage


The treatment for pain in the back of thigh depends on the diagnosis – only a doctor can come up with an accurate diagnosis. Some pains can be handled at home with no medication at all, while others may require emergency help. For instance, thigh pain caused by a blood clot required immediate medical attention.

The good news is most thigh pains are not associated with life-threatening issues and can be managed in no time.

1. Exercise for pain in the back of thigh

Exercise will be your doctor’s first recommendation. Such exercises target ligaments, nerves, tendons, bones and muscles in the affected area. Lumbar stretches and back strengthening workouts are excellent to keep the spinal nerves in good condition. Make sure you maintain a good posture as well.

Suggested article: The Ultimate Exercise Guide To Improving Posture (With Pictures)

Similar exercises are recommended when the pain is associated with hamstring or quad strains. Exercises will help you maintain a proper weight for your height, which will also ameliorate and prevent pains.

2. Medication

Medication is normally based on anti-inflammatory drugs. Such things can be taken over the counter, but it pays off getting a recommendation from your doctor. They are more common if the pain is caused by inflammatory conditions – such as a strain or tendonitis.

Most people try to avoid drugs because they may have side effects and cause addiction. Ibuproven is a classic anti-inflammatory drug, while creams based on it are just as common. Acetaminophen is good for pain and discomfort, but it will not work on inflammation.

3. Heat and ice

You can use heat pads or ice packs to ameliorate pain in the back of the thigh, especially if the problem is not severe. Your doctor will also recommend it. Ice reduces inflammation and decreases pain intensity. Get an ice pack, cover it in a towel and apply it on the affected area for 20 minutes. Avoid placing it directly on the skin.

Heat is more appropriate if the inflammation is visible and you can notice swelling or redness. You should wait until these signs disappear. Heat will relax the tissues and boost the blood circulation in the affected area. Again, apply heat for about 15 or 20 minutes, a few times a day. Remove it if it causes any discomfort.

You can alternate between ice and heat, but you can also ask your doctor for advice. Different issues may require different treatments.

4. Physical therapies

Physical therapies for pain in the back of the thigh may involve more aspects. For example, chiropractic care is recommended if you need to get rid of the pressure around the pinched nerve.

Acupuncture is also recommended to overcome the pain. When the flow is interrupted in a channel, the whole body suffers. This is what acupuncture is based on. Stick to a licensed professional because acupuncture involves using very sharp needles. They normally go in the affected areas to restore the healthy flow.

Massage therapy is helpful too, but stick to sports massages for professionals.

Suggested article: 18 Self Massage Techniques For Different Body Parts


Bottom line, pain in the back of the thigh is quite common and may have more or less obvious causes. No matter what the issue is, it pays off seeing a professional to get the optimal treatment. Even if it is a mild injury, seek help if the swelling does not go away after a few days. While most of these pains are handled with home-based treatments or over-the-counter medications, more difficult situations may require emergency care, hence the necessity of seeing a specialist doctor.​

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