While there are chances that the pain in the rear section of your thighs might be a referred pain, it could also be caused due to medical conditions such as compressed sciatic nerve, hamstring pull, or severe injuries. This Buzzle write-up provides information on the common contributing factors for posterior thigh pain.
Recurring episodes of thigh pain could be caused due to a wide range of reasons. While pain in the frontal or anterior region of the thigh is often caused due to quadriceps muscle pull, hip arthritis, or a compressed lumbar nerve, pain in the lateral section of the thighs, which is pain extending to the sides of your thighs, is often felt due to the impingement of the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve. Posterior thigh pain, on the other hand, often results from strained hamstrings or any injury affecting the tendons, tissues, nerves, blood vessels, or other structures that are a part of the rear thigh region. Those who play contact sports and perform intense workouts are more susceptible to pain in this region.
While physical trauma to any area of the body causes pain in that particular part of the body, there are times when pain is felt at a place other than the part which is subjected to trauma. The pain you might be experiencing in posterior thigh might be a referred pain arising from the lower back. The unpleasant sensation of pain is your body's way of warning you that some part of the body has been adversely affected. So, those of you who have been experiencing a sharp pain in the rear section of your thighs must consult a doctor. Given below are some of the common conditions that might give rise to pain in the posterior thigh region.
Contributing Factors for Pain in the Back of Thigh
Pain in the posterior thigh area could be attributed to various medical conditions. Here are some of the medical conditions that could be responsible for causing pain in the rear portion of the thighs.
Hamstrings, which are located in the rear of thighs, comprise three muscles called biceps femoris, semitendinosus, and semimembranosus. This muscle group facilitates the bending movements of the knee and also helps in moving the thighs backwards at the hip. One of the common causes of a rear thigh pain is a hamstring muscle pull. This can restrict one's range of motion and lead to pain in thigh when walking or running. Sprinters and hurdle jumpers are more susceptible to a pulled hamstring. A pulled hamstring is often characterized by pain, as well as tightness in the rear thigh. One is likely to experience pain while flexing the knees. A direct blow to the back of the thigh could also cause a hamstring contusion. Such injuries often affect those who play contact sports.
Another common cause of posterior leg pain could be a pinched sciatic nerve. This is the longest and widest nerve in the human body. If it gets compressed or inflamed, it gives rise to pain that starts at the lower back and radiates towards the thighs, as well as the lower extremities. A nerve root compression is the most common cause of sciatica. This is usually caused due to protrusion of the intervertebral discs that separate the bones present in the spine. Spinal injuries or conditions such as lumbar spinal stenosis or spondylolisthesis could also compress this nerve and cause pain in the rear of the thigh.
The piriformis muscle runs in proximity to the sciatic nerve. It lies underneath the gluteal muscles and runs from the sacrum or the lower region of the spine to the outer hip bone. Over-stretching of this muscle can cause it to tighten. Since it lies near the sciatic nerve, it can irritate or compress the sciatic nerve. This in turn, can lead to pain, numbness, or tingling sensation in the lower back, rear thighs, and lower extremities.
Another contributing factor for pain in this region is the compartment syndrome of the posterior thigh. This could be caused due to overuse injuries. This condition is characterized by swelling of muscles in the posterior thigh. When a massive swelling occurs, pressure is exerted on the sheath surrounding the muscle. When the muscle is enclosed within a smaller space, it can lead to the compression of the nerves, blood vessels, and muscles. If the oxygen supply is cut off, it could cause tissue death, which in turn would give rise to pain in posterior thigh.
When pain is experienced at places other than the site of injury, it is referred to as referred pain. Many a time, pain is caused due to inflammation of muscles, ligaments, or tendons placed in the hip area, but is felt around the thigh region. Injury around the sacroiliac joint or gluteal muscles could also result in referred hamstring pain.
Poor Blood Circulation
Many a time, people experience pain in thigh when sitting for long stretches of time. Pain in the rear of the thigh when sitting is mainly attributed to poor blood circulation. People who have recently been operated upon and are bedridden might experience aching thighs due to a limited flow of blood. Those who are affected by blood clotting disorders such as venal insufficiency and deep vein thrombosis could also experience pain in thighs and lower extremities.
If episodes of severe pain in posterior thigh are recurring, then you must consult a doctor in order to ascertain the underlying cause. Those who often indulge in intensive workouts will benefit by resting, while those who are not physically active need to start leading an active lifestyle. RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) approach is generally recommended by most doctors for the treatment of thigh pain. This non-surgical treatment of hamstring pulls often involve taking ample rest, application of ice, use of compression bandage and keeping the leg elevated so as to reduce the swelling.
Besides using knee splints to immobilize the knee joint, one might be prescribed painkillers, anti-inflammatory drugs, or steroids. If the injury is severe, surgery might be suggested. Once the structures in the thigh have healed considerably, certain exercises will be suggested to strengthen the muscles in the posterior thigh region. The use of drugs, coupled with certain lifestyle changes can also help in the treatment of conditions such as sciatica, piriformis syndrome, or posterior femoral cutaneous nerve pain. Surgery is often suggested if conservative treatment options don't seem to work.
While going through these common causes of posterior thigh pain, it would have struck you that the pain in rear or back of the thighs is either brought on by trauma due to injuries or medical conditions caused due to overuse injuries of hamstrings or gluteal muscles. You must therefore, refrain from activities that strain the thigh muscles. If you experience pain in rear thigh region, take rest so that the muscles, tendons, and ligaments get time to heal. Those who have recently starting working out, must first perform stretching exercises so that the muscles are prepared to endure any strenuous activity. Since medical conditions could also be responsible for pain in the thigh(s), it would be best to let a medical expert look into the matter.
: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.