Advice about the Legs

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  • Hi BPN,

    I have been suffering from calf pain for weeks, following excruciating calf cramps on both sides in early July.  I have had an ultrasound to rule out a DVT, MRI of my lower back to rule out a nerve impingement issue (both were negative), and have tried muscle relaxants, nerve pain meds, ibuprofen.  Additionally, I have had plantar fasciitis in both feet, and ankle tendonitis and Achilles pain on the right side for over a year.  

    I am looking for a miracle worker, who (a) doesn't write off my pain as anxiety, and (b) can actually diagnose what is happening, and (c) help me map out a clear path to wellness and pain-free daily life.


    I'm glad you had the ultrasound. Have you seen a foot/ankle ortho specialist? It sounds like you have something going on with your feet. I would recommend Dr. Keith Donnato or Dr. Kristina Olsen both - foot and ankle orthoped. surgeons in SF. I had flat foot reconstruction by Dr. Olsen at UCSF about a year ago. I had lots of ankle and feet symptoms prior (but not calve). It took many podiatrist visits and a botched surgery by one  - until I decided to try to find the best foot and ankle specialists in a the area. I wish I had seen these surgeons years ago. 

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Itchy Legs When Walking or Exercising

Feb 2006

I've had this problem for almost 10 years now, and I'm hoping someone out there can help me. Whenever I take a walk (longer than 10 minutes or so), my legs start to get extremely itchy -- almost feel like they are burning. I don't seem to get any hives or noticeable changes to the skin. When I was in my 20s, I used to run several miles a day, and then it seemed like over night, I had this itchy leg problem, and I stopped running. Now that I have a baby, I want to take him on walks in the park, etc., and I can't because of this problem. I've gone to a dermatologist, I've tried different allergy medicines and creams, I've tried wearing different fabrics (the problem happens whether I wear shorts or pants), and nothing really seems to help. Does anyone else have this problem? If so, has anything worked to stop the itching? anon

did you see the dermatologist when your legs were itchy? are you able to reproduce it for the appointment? that might be helpful. they might need to take a biopsy of your skin while you are itchy to see what it shows, based on the cells they might be able to tell you it is of allergic origin or not... sounds like an allergic-y kind of thing but you don't have the hives... what medicines did you try taking? I would suggest trying claritin 10 mg (over the counter) 2 hours before? you could also try some pseudoephedrine 1hr before walking? (assuming you don't have any contraindications to the pseudoephedrine)... if you haven't seen an allergist, then perhaps try that. Again UCSF would be your best bet b/c they are academic and see the weird things. and again if you could ''show them the itchiness'' like walk before the appointment, that would be best... Sophia, pediatrician
I have had what I think is a similar problem for all of my adult life: When I go running and I haven't been running for a few weeks, about 15 minutes into the run I will get severe itching usually mostly my chest, abdomen and legs. If I scratch it gets much worse, very red, but no hives. Once I stop running it resolves pretty quickly. I have researched it and I think it is some kind of exercise-induced histamine-release. The following has helped me: 1) If I exercise regularly (i.e. at least a few times a week) the problem is better, 2) if I dress warmly in cold weather, 3) Don't scratch! it only makes it worse. 4) You could consider a low-dose of Benadryl (like 12.5 mg) which shouldn't make you too drowsy and might help as an antihistamine. 5) Know that you are not alone! Anon
I believe it is a circulation thing. I get this from time to time during exercise - and the conclusions I have drawn from my experience is that it happens most often when I am not in very good shape. The first few times I go out for a jog or a fast walk I'll be bothered by it, but after I get back into my routine it doesn't happen. I also notice it more when I go on walks down hill - and sometimes I get it in my arms when I am on a long bumpy descent on my bike. It is extremely annoying! I try to use mind over matter techniques to keep myself from scratching myself raw. I'd be interested to hear if there is anyone out there that can offer a scientific explanation for this - up until now I have always gone with my intuition that it is circulatory and not a skin thing. Cheers, Alix
I get the exact same thing and also have no clue what causes it. It seems to kick in after excercising for a while. It makes the middle and end of a long walk/run very uncomfortable. At first I suspected it could be from laundry detergent, but it seems to happen with long pants or shorts. Looking forward to the responses. Itchy Walker Too
I, too, have had this affliction, although I get it all over my body. The only other person I've ever heard of getting this is my teenage daughter, so I wonder if there's some genetic link. It sounds so silly, but I know it really is a nightmare. I tried all the things you mentioned, and also tried giving up chocolate and caffeine, but fortunately that didn't work either. If I can give you any hope it's that I've (mostly) outgrown it. It only happens occasionnaly now, but that's after suffering with it for 30 years! Don't know why it's disappeared, but I'll be interested to hear if anyone else has this problem and if anyone has gotten any relief. Been there, done that
You know, I get itchy on my legs and torso when exercising too, though it generally only happens if I'm outside during colder weather. I've always assumed it has something to do with sweat forming on the skin in cold air. It's incredibly uncomfortable - almost painful - but I've never thought to do anything about it. Sorry that's no help, but I wanted to let you know that I experience it too. I'll be curious to see if anyone has a solution. itchy too
Don't have the medical answer for you, but I have the same issue when I don't exercise regularly. I found the ''cure'' to be pushing through the itch/pain and working out daily. Within about 4 days, it goes away. - Tsan
I've had the exact problem you describe since high school and so does one of my sisters. I've found that it seems to disappear if I walk at a brisk pace several days/wk. (about 20 min. minimum/day). But once I stop it starts again fairly quickly. Also it doesn't seem to be a problem when the weather is warm, only if I start out cold and warm up quickly. I always assumed it's a quirky circulation thing. Caroline
Yes, I've gotten this too. My understanding is that it's simply a result of your blood circulating in your legs and coming to the surface of your skin. Eventually, as you continue to exercise and your circulation gets better, it won't itch so much. At least, that's what I've heard. Perhaps other people know something different? At any rate, it's nothing to worry about, I've never had any problems. Itchy Legs Too
When I first experienced this during PE in junior high (a long time ago), my PE teacher explained to me that this happens when you burn fat and it sweats out of your pores. I don't remember how I treated this maybe a quick rinse with cold water? Anyhow, I took it for what it was and it hasn't bothered (for too long) when it does happen. Annoying still isn't it?! member of the itchy leg club
I have this problem too. For me the itchiness often becomes so intense it's really painful. It seems to happen more often when it is cold outside and the skin of my legs gets cold - but my body is getting hot with the exercise. Wearing tights against my skin with warm fleece pants on top sometimes helps - but not always. I wish I knew why this happens! I'll be interested to see the other replies! Catherine
The exact same thing has been happening to me for the past 11 years or so (I'm 33 now). It's only on my legs and it usually starts up about a half hour to an hour into vigorous walking or hiking. It itches so terribly and it's so distracting it's hard to enjoy my surroundings or concentrate on anything else once it starts. It also can get to a burning sensation especially if I start scratching it, and it seems to be worse in cold weather. I thought maybe it was because I used sunscreen or lotion and that maybe since my pores were open that I was somehow having an allergic reaction. So I tried no lotions or sunscreens and still experienced it. Then I thought maybe it was the type of material rubbing against my legs (my thighs more specifically, right on top) so I played around with that (shorts versus long pants, denim vs soft cotton, etc) and still couldn't figure it out. I even experimented with whether my legs were shaved or not. I wish I had some advice for you, but I have not yet figured it out. Just wanted to let you know that there is someone else out there who deals with the same weird thing. And please let me know if you solve the mystery! itchy too
I have the same itchy leg problem when I walk or exercise for longer than about 20 minutes. I don't know what to tell you except that for me it seems like a circulation issue rather than a dermatological issue... like, once my usually sluggish circulation really gets going in my legs, they itch from the extra blood flow. So maybe try some circulation enhancing things? anon
THe medical term for what you have is called ''cholinergic urticaria''. It is pretty common and tends to occur with temperature change, like getting out of a hot shower and coming into the cool air, or going walking and heating up your body from its usual core temperature. How good of shape are you in? If you don't mind me asking. Sometimes when overweight and out of shape the problem is more profound. Antihistamines can work sometimes a half hour before excercise. Ask a dermatologist for advice on how to treat it.The other idea is to try stretching and warming up first to see if this helps. Good luck. Linda, P.A.
I had this too--only in cold weather-- and it was completely solved when I began wearing running pants--the stretchy kind that wick moisture away and distribute your body temp. Nike makes them but I'm sure most sporting goods brands do as well. hope this helps. been there
I couldn't believe it when I belatedly ran across the advice given regarding itchy legs when walking/hiking/etc...I have had this off and on since I was a kid playing soccer (I'm now 36), and I'd never been able to find anyone else with it! Mine would get so intense that my chest would tighten and get a little scary. I finally figured out with my doctor that it was a histamine release brought on by exercise and it was generally worse in cool weather. I now take generic claritin daily for allergies and haven't had an episode since. I hope it's as easy of a fix for you! no more itchies!