By Sydney CBD Osteopath Dr Abbey Davidson
The lower leg is composed two bones; the shin bone (tibia) and the fibula. Multiple muscles are located in the lower leg which assist with knee, ankle and foot movements. The lower leg plays an important role in standing, walking, running, jumping and weight-bearing activities.
Lower leg pain is commonly associated with sports, as they are often caused by overuse or direct injury to the area.
What are the common causes of Lower Leg Pain?
The common causes and conditions associated with pain in the lower leg include:
- Shin Splints
- Intermittent Claudication
- Tibial stress fracture
- Compartment Syndrome
- Achilles Tendonitis
What are the common structures which contribute to Lower Leg Pain?
Pain in the lower leg can be caused by issues in a variety of structures in the body, including:
- Blood vessels
What can I do to help myself with Lower Leg Pain?
How to best treat your lower leg pain will be dependent on your specific diagnosis.
Your lower leg is impacted greatly by foot mechanics. It is important that the footwear you wear is specific to the activity you are participating in. You should ask your health professional for advice on your footwear and to see if what you are wearing is suitable for you. This will include checking how old your shows are, and how specific they are for your work and fitness needs.
Particularly in overuse type injuries, rest may be recommended. When the body is ready, you may be advised to adjust your trainings. Progressive increasing in training intensity and frequency should occur until you return to pre-injury status. In some situations, you may have to alter training surfaces to assist in your recovery, for example, changing from a concrete to a grass running track.
If your complaint is sport or activity related, stretching may play an important role in your recovery and prevention of reoccurrence. This may involve stretching not only through lower leg, but foot, thigh, buttock and back as well. It is important to remember that dynamic stretching should be performed before activity, and static stretching after. Ask your health professional about what stretches are appropriate for your recovery and what you should you should continue to do even after recovery.
In some cases, strapping of the foot or lower leg may be useful.
When should I seek professional help for my Lower Leg Pain?
- Pain present at rest; not just during exercise
- Redness, swelling or deformity
- Inability to perform normal running or walking distances
- Increasing pain levels
What will a health practitioner do to help with my Lower Leg Pain?
In your first appointment with a health practitioner, they will gather information regarding your pain by asking a serious of questions, and will cross check this with an assessment of the region to come to a diagnosis for your pain. Provocative testing will be used to assess specific structures potentially involved in your pain.
Hands on treatment will focus on decreasing muscular tension, increasing your range of motion in your foot, ankle, knee and hip joint, and addressing the mechanics of the lower limb and foot. In most cases, customised exercise and stretches will be prescribed to help the lower leg recover.
For more information on conditions of the leg, ankle and foot, click on the following conditions: