The lower leg is a common problem area for soreness. The muscles of the lower leg control foot motion and stability, so increases in activity or changes in footwear can sometimes cause sore muscles or tendonitis. An increase in physical activity is a leading cause of lower leg pain, but there are many other health conditions that can cause leg pain as well. Leg pain that is severe, sudden, or accompanied by swelling should always be evaluated by a physician. Some of the more common causes of lower leg pain include:
Stretching prior to exercise helps decrease the chance of muscle injury.
medial tibial stress syndrome, is a common exercise-related injury. Shin splints often affect runners and those involved in sprinting or jumping sports. The pain is felt along the inside (medial) and back (posterior) part of the tibia bone where the calf muscles attach to the bone. Shin splints may be aggravated or triggered by foot conditions such as over-pronation or high-arched feet. A stress fracture of the tibia bone is another condition seen in running and jumping sports and like shin splints, causes leg pain with activity. A less common cause of exercise-related leg pain is exercise-induced compartment syndrome. This condition is more often associated with a recent increase in leg muscle mass and causes intense leg pain, cramping, and a tight feeling in the leg muscles with activity.
3. TendonitisTendonitis is a common sports overuse injury but can strike anyone, regardless of activity levels. Tendonitis is inflammation surrounding a tendon, which is a strong, cord-like structure that anchors a muscle to bone. Abnormalities in foot structure such as flat feet or high arches can trigger tendonitis. Tendonitis presents as pain that increases with activity or stretching of the affected tendon. Common types of tendonitis that would cause lower leg pain around the ankle area are Achilles tendonitis and posterior tibial tendonitis.
venous insufficiency, which can lead to varicose veins, recurrent leg swelling, and skin changes such as a brown discoloration near the ankles. A serious and potentially life-threatening cause of leg pain is known as Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT). A DVT is a clot in a leg vein that can break-off and travel to the lungs or other organs.
6. PregnancyFoot and leg problems are a common problem for pregnant women, especially in the third trimester. Sore legs and feet are often due to the increase in weight plus hormonal changes that cause the foot's arch to relax and compress down a little more. This causes a tendency toward flat feet and can also cause the leg muscles to work a little harder at maintaining foot stability, resulting in sore leg muscles. Painful leg cramps in pregnancy may be caused by blood volume changes or from sciatic nerve compression by the expanding uterus.
multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis. Thyroid disease can also cause pain in the legs. Also, medications for certain medical conditions are known to cause leg pain or cramps. Diuretics and statin drugs for high cholesterol are common examples. Check with your provider if you suspect your medication may be causing leg pain.