What Causes a Sharp Shooting Pain in the Leg?

Some causes of shooting pain in the leg are sciatica, piriformis syndrome and shin splints. With the medical conditions sciatica and piriformis syndrome, the sciatic nerve is affected. Shin splints, which tend to occur in runners, is pain that extends through the shinbone or tibia, states the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

Sciatica is a condition in which shooting pain can radiate down the sciatic nerve, which is located in the lower back region and runs down through the buttock, thigh and lower leg area. The condition develops when the sciatic nerve is compressed through such causes as a herniated disk in the lumbar region, bone spurs, tumors or some underlying medical condition, according to Mayo Clinic. Although shooting pain that extends down to the leg areas is a symptom, some others are muscle weakness or numbness in the legs and possible problems with bladder control.

Similarly, piriformis syndrome occurs when the piriformis muscle located in the thighbone places undue pressure on the sciatic nerve, states Family Doctor. A traumatic injury or fall can cause this condition. This can lead to the same symptoms as with sciatica.

Shin splints can also cause sharp pain and swelling in the lower leg. The condition can be exacerbated with intense exercise or directly after it. A cause of shin splints can be activities that overuse the muscles and tissues near the shinbone area, as noted by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.