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Leg Pain | Pain In Leg | Causes of Leg Pain | Leg Pains | Foot Physics

Leg Pain Causes & Treatments

Leg Pain Causes and TreatmentsLower leg pain (pain between the knee and the ankle) is common in adults, especially following injury. Shin splints are the most common cause of leg pain, but other problems to look out for include anterior compartment syndrome, calf strain, calf cramp and tibialis posterior syndrome.

Our Orthopaedic Podiatrist, Chris Parish, has more than 23 years of experience diagnosing and treating the causes of leg injuries and leg conditions , in adults and children.  To Discuss your leg condition in further detail or make an appointment to see Chris about your legs, please contact us by phone, email or using our simple online contact form

Contents

  1. Shin Splints
  2. Treatment for Shin Splints
  3. Anterior Compartment Syndrome (Anterior Shin Splints)
  4. Treatment for Anterior Compartment Syndrome(Anterior Shin Splints)
  5. Posterior Compartment Syndrome (Posterior Shin Splints)
  6. Treatment for Posterior Compartment Syndrome (Posterior Shin Splints)
  7. Calf Strain
  8. Treatment of Calf Strain
  9. Calf Cramp
  10. Treatment of Calf Cramp
  11. Tibialis Posterior Syndrome (Tibialis Posterior Tendinitis)
  12. Treatment of Tibialis Posterior Syndrome (Tibialis Posterior Tendinitis)


Shin Splints

Treatment for Shin SplintsShin splints is the term used to refer to any condition that causes your leg to hurt along your shin bone (the tibia). More often than not it is used to describe the soreness caused by inflammation of the thin layer of tissue that covers the tibia and/or caused by tiny fractures on the surface of the tibia bone. This type of injury, where there is repetitive stress placed on the shin bone, is common among runners, dancers and gymnasts. Rapidly increasing your training levels, running or jumping on hard surfaces and wearing inadequate or worn down trainers or shoes that do not support your feet properly are all contributing factors.

Shin splints can also be caused by underlying biomechanical problems such as over-pronation (where your foot rolls inwards), oversupination (where your foot rolls outwards) or weakness in the muscles that attach to the bone.

Symptoms include soreness over the inside lower half of the shin, pain at the start of exercise which often eases as the session continues and sometimes swelling. It tends to come back after the exercise and is often worse the following morning.

Shin splints can also affect children, especially if they play or practice on a hard surface.

Treatment for Shin Splints

Treatment for shin splints is relatively straightforward: rest to allow the injury to heal and avoid any activities which cause further damage to the shin, apply ice or cold therapy to help reduce soreness and inflammation (never directly to the skin) and make sure your footwear provides adequate support and cushioning.

Your Orthopaedic Podiatrist will help you to identify any training or biomechanical causes which may have led to injury in the first place, and may recommend corrective or shock-absorbing insoles to help prevent the injury from recurring.

Orthotic Insoles

Orthaheel Regular Orthotics

Regular

Orthaheel Slimfit Orthotic

Slimfit

Orthaheel Sport Orthotic

Sport

Orthaheeel Workforce Orthotic

Workforce

Orthaheel Gel Heel Pain Reliever

Gel Heel


Anterior Compartment Syndrome
(Anterior Shin Splints)

Anterior compartment syndrome arises when a muscle becomes too big for the sheath that surrounds it, causing pain. The big muscle on the outside of the shin is called the tibialis anterior; it is surrounded by a sheath. This is called the anterior compartment of the lower leg. Anterior compartment syndrome can be acute or chronic. Acute anterior compartment syndrome occurs as a result of a sudden injury or impact that causes bleeding within the compartment and therefore swelling; a muscle tear, causing bleeding and swelling; or overuse, also causing swelling.

Symptoms include a sharp pain in the muscle on the outside of the lower leg, weakness when trying to pull the foot upwards against resistance, swelling and pain when the foot and toes are bent downwards.

Chronic anterior compartment syndrome tends to occur as a result of overuse and long-term overdevelopment of the muscle through training.

Pain is increased during exercise, making running impossible. You may also experience difficulty lifting your toes and foot up, and pain when pulling toes and foot downwards.

Treatment for Anterior Compartment Syndrome
(Anterior Shin Splints)

Rest until there is no pain and apply ice and compression to help reduce any swelling. See an Orthopaedic Podiatrist for advice on long-term treatment and rehabilitation.


Posterior Compartment Syndrome
(Posterior Shin Splints)

The posterior compartment sits behind the shin bone (tibia) and has two parts: deep or superficial (see diagram opposite). The deep posterior compartment contains muscles in the lower leg that sit just behind the shin (tibia) bone and the superficial compartment contains the largest of the calf muscles.

Posterior compartment syndrome arises when muscles within the compartments become too big, causing pain and usually swelling. Posterior compartment syndrome can either be acute or chronic.

Acute posterior compartment syndrome occurs as a result of a sudden injury or impact that causes bleeding within the compartment and therefore swelling, a muscle tear (causing bleeding and swelling), or overuse, also causing swelling.

Posterior compartment syndrome can also be caused by underlying biomechanical problems such as flat feet (excessive pronation) or weakness in the muscles that attach to the bone.

Symptoms include pain and tightness along the inside of your shin, especially when you kick, jump or go up on your heels, an increasing ache deep in the calf, and pain when you pull your toes and foot downwards. Pain tends to increase with exercise and decrease with rest. Chronic posterior compartment syndrome tends to occur as a result of overuse and long-term overdevelopment of the muscles through training.

Treatment for Posterior Compartment Syndrome
(Posterior Shin Splints)

Rest until there is no pain and apply ice and compression to help reduce any swelling.

See an Orthopaedic Podiatrist for advice on long-term treatment and rehabilitation.

If there is an underlying biomechanical problem, such as flat feet, they will probably recommend custom-made orthotics (prescription insoles) to help correct overpronation and specific stretching exercise to help prevent the injury from recurring.

Orthotic Insoles

Orthaheel Regular Orthotics

Regular

Orthaheel Slimfit Orthotic

Slimfit

Orthaheel Sport Orthotic

Sport

Orthaheeel Workforce Orthotic

Workforce

Orthaheel Gel Heel Pain Reliever

Gel Heel


Calf Strain

Calf Strain and Treatment for Calf StrainCalf strain, as its name suggests, refers to a strain of one of the two calf muscles. Gastrocnemius is the larger of the two; it sits at the back of the lower leg, and the smaller soleus muscle sits lower down under the gastrocnemius. They both act to push the foot down. The gastrocnemius attaches above the knee joint and inserts into the heel bone via the Achilles tendon. The soleus attaches below the knee joint and then to the heel via the Achilles tendon.

A strain or tear can occur in either muscle. All muscle strains are graded from 1-3, with grade 1 being a minor tear and grade 3 a full rupture. Symptoms, pain especially, vary according to the severity of the strain:

  • A grade 1 strain may produce just a twinge of pain in the back of the lower leg.
  • A grade 2 strain is likely to cause sharp pain in the back of the lower leg with pain on walking and possibly swelling.
  • A grade 3 strain is very painful; there is likely to be considerable bruising and swelling and in the case of a full rupture, the muscle often ‘bunches up’ at the back of the calf.

Calf strain tends to affect people (athletes in particular) with tight calf muscles.

Treatment of Calf Strain

Again, treatment will vary depending on the severity of the strain. As a general rule of thumb the R.I.C.E. theory should be used to help reduce pain and swelling: Rest, Ice, Compression (using a support bandage) and Elevation. This therapy should be applied as soon as possible (ice wrapped in a damp cloth) so as to stop any internal tissue bleeding.

Orthaheel Gel Heel Pain RelieverHeel pads placed temporarily inside your shoes will help to raise your heel, thereby shortening your calf muscles and taking some of the strain off of them.

An Orthopaedic Podiatrist can advise on long-term treatment and rehabilitation and prevention. It is important you seek the correct advice and treatment so as to prevent future calf strain injuries.


Calf Cramp

Calf cramps are painful contractions of the calf muscles: the gastrocnemius and the soleus muscles. They affect most people who train hard, especially runners. The exact cause of calf cramp is not known but contributing factors are thought to include dehydration, low potassium or sodium (salt), low carbohydrate levels and very tight calf muscles.

Treatment of Calf Cramp

If you are suffering a bout of cramp, stretch your calf and hold the stretch for as long as is necessary. Gentle massage of the muscles may also help to relieve cramp by encouraging blood flow.

Severe leg cramp can cause damage to the muscle due to the sheer strength of the contraction. If the muscle is damaged in this way, a full rehabilitation programme with sports massage treatment can help to restore the muscle to its original condition but should only be undertaken by an Orthopaedic Podiatrist or sports injury professional.


Tibialis Posterior Syndrome
(Tibialis Posterior Tendinitis)

Tibialis posterior syndrome or tendinitis is the term used to describe inflammation of the tibialis posterior tendon. The tibialis posterior tendon attaches to the muscle that comes from behind the shin bone (tibia) and runs down the back of the leg, passing behind the bony bit on the inside of the ankle (medial malleolus).

Inflammation can occur anywhere along the tibialis posterior tendon but is most common around the medial malleolus and further down under the foot where the tendon attaches.

If you over-pronate (if your foot rolls inwards and downwards more than normal) you are more likely to suffer from this injury.

Skaters and runners whose feet roll a lot are especially prone.

Symptoms include pain behind the medial malleolus or in the inside arch of the foot, pain along the tibialis posterior tendon and occasionally swelling.

Treatment of Tibialis Posterior Syndrome
(Tibialis Posterior Tendinitis)

The immediate treatment for tibialis posterior syndrome is to rest and restrict movement of the tendon. Ice therapy can also be applied to help reduce swelling, but never directly to the skin in case of ice burn occurring.

Your Orthopaedic Podiatrist will probably recommend custom-made orthotics (prescription insoles) to help control over-pronation and specific stretching exercise to help prevent the injury from recurring.

Orthotic Insoles

Orthaheel Regular Orthotics

Regular

Orthaheel Slimfit Orthotic

Slimfit

Orthaheel Sport Orthotic

Sport

Orthaheeel Workforce Orthotic

Workforce

Orthaheel Gel Heel Pain Reliever

Gel Heel

Recovery is usually fairly rapid and patients may be able to resume their normal activities after two to three weeks, providing there is no underlying degeneration of the tendon.


Our Orthopaedic Podiatrist, Chris Parish, has more than 23 years of experience diagnosing and treating the causes of leg pain, in adults and children.  To Discuss your leg condition in further detail or make an appointment to see Chris about your leg pain, please contact us by phone, email or using our simple online contact form


Appointments

To book an appointment, please call your nearest FootPhysics centre:

Methley Park Hospital, Leeds
01977 518 518

Elland Hospital, Elland
01422 324 000

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