A stress fracture is an overuse injury that can
occur in any weight-bearing bone.
Stress fractures usually occur when the muscular and soft tissue
structures that absorb shock tire, resulting in additional stress
to the weight-bearing bones.
Half of all stress fractures occur in the lower leg and often
result from increasing activity levels too quickly or from using
improper or worn out shoes.
Symptoms include pain in or around a weight-bearing bone that
increases with activity and usually subsides with rest.
Symptoms may start gradually, but can increase quickly as the
activity level increases. Treatment usually involves rest or a
change to pain-free activities and ice to control symptoms.
Usually found in the front (anterior) compartment of the lower
leg, compartment syndrome is a condition caused
by repeated muscular activity or trauma.
It causes a significant increase of fluids, inflammation or
bleeding into an enclosed soft tissue compartment, resulting in
increased pressure on the nerves and blood supply that run
through that compartment.
These soft tissue compartments are completely enclosed by tissue
call fascia and cannot reduce the increased pressure caused by
the increase in fluids.
Symptoms usually include:
- Pain around the affected compartment
- Numbness, tingling or burning sensations below the affected
- Possible decreased blood flow below the affected area
Symptoms often increase with activity and may initially decrease
with rest. Initial treatment of mild cases usually includes rest,
ice to control symptoms, and a gradual return to activity.
More severe cases may require surgery to relieve the pressure
within the compartment and reduce the risk of further injury to
the lower leg and foot.
Shin splints are characterized by pain in the
lower leg that increases with activity.
Generally caused by a sudden increase in activity, shin splints
also are associated with tightness in the calf, weakness in the
muscles that move the foot upward, improper footwear or activity
on an uneven surface.
Symptoms are generally felt in the lower half of the front and
outside aspects of the lower leg.
Treatment usually includes:
- Stretching activities for the calf and lower leg
- Strengthening exercises for the muscles that support the foot
- Taping or bracing to minimize stress on the affected areas
If left untreated, shin splints usually will develop into more
significant injuries such as stress fractures or anterior