Common leg pain condition symptoms and treatments are outlined below.
Shin Splints (click to open/close)
This is a common injury, affecting different areas of the shins known as ‘compartments’ such as anterior, lateral and medial/posterior. Anyone can be affected, but it is more common in people who engage in running, sports or increased activities.
Shin splints are characterised by pain in the lower part of the leg between the knee and the ankle. Injuries are caused by repeated trauma to the connective muscle tissue surrounding the shin. Ignoring this injury may result in a more serious condition such as a stress fracture of the bones.
- Pain, palpable tenderness, swelling and a recurring dull ache
- History of prolonged activity or exercise after a period of inactivity.
Treatments for shin splints include:
- Anti-inflammatory medication
- RICE – Rest (a couple of weeks or up to three months for severe cases), Ice, Compression, Elevation
- Decrease duration or intensity of exercise and build it up slowly, as well as exercise caution on high impact surfaces, until the muscles re-condition
- Physical therapy modalities such as ultrasound, extracorporeal shock wave therapy, whirlpool baths, phonophoresis, augmented soft tissue mobilisation, electrical stimulation
- Stretching and strengthening exercises
- Injection therapies such as acupuncture, prolotherapy and cortisone
- Footwear with sufficient shock-absorbing soles
- Orthotics to control biomechanical problems such as pronation.
Top of foot pain/Dorsal Midfoot Interosseous Compression Syndrome
This condition causes significant and consistent pain in the top of the foot (dorsal surface) during weight-bearing activity. Repetitive trauma at the surface of the dorsal mid-foot joints results in inflammation in the capsular ligaments. Barefoot or low-heeled shoes may exacerbate the pain, while shoes with a slightly higher heel may reduce symptoms.
If you are a runner who prefers to forefoot strike and/or run in minimalist footwear, you may find that you are more prone to ‘top of foot pain’ as the dorsiflexion movements of the forefoot on the rear-foot are increased.
Treatment involves reducing the inflammation (Ice therapy, anti-inflammatories) and eliminating the biomechanical factors causing the increased compression forces. This can involve stretching exercises, mobilisation, dry needling, footwear advice, heel lifts and/or foot orthotics.
For runners, reviewing running techniques and training load – whether temporarily or permanently – may be beneficial, as may the above-mentioned therapies.
Flat feet, or over pronation, is a common biomechanical problem that occurs in the walking process when a person’s arch collapses upon weight bearing. Pronation refers specifically to the natural inward flexing motion of the lower left and ankle. Running, walking and standing cause the ankle joint to pronate which helps the body to absorb shock and control balance. This motion can cause extreme stress or inflammation of the plantar fascia, possibly causing severe discomfort and leading to other foot problems.
- There are many causes of flat feet, including:
- Repetitive pounding on hard surfaces.
People with flat feet often do not experience discomfort immediately and some never suffer any discomfort at all. However, when symptoms develop and become painful, walking becomes awkward and causes increased strain on the feet and calves.
Treatment for flat feet includes:
- Over-the-counter orthotics
- Arch support and/or
- Medial rear foot posting
- Supportive footwear with a firm heel counter.
Lisfrancs Joint Injury