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leg pain

Shin Splints

The term “shin splints” refers to pain along the shin bone or Tibia. The tibia is the large bone in the front of your lower leg. The pain of shin splints is from the inflammation of the muscles, tendons, and bone tissue around your shin. Shin splints are common in runners, dancers and military recruits. Shin splints often occur in athletes who have recently intensified or changed their training routines. Shin splints are more common with athletes who run on harder surfaces such as concrete vs grass. The increased activity overworks the muscles, tendons and bone tissue.

Common activities that cause shin splints are:

  • Running, especially on hills. If you are a new runner, you are at greater risk for shin splints.

  • Increasing your days of training.

  • Increasing the intensity of training, or going a longer distance.

  • Doing exercise that has frequent stops and starts, such as dancing, basketball, or military training.

Most cases of shin splints can be treated with rest, ice and other self-care measures. Wearing proper footwear and modifying your exercise routine can help prevent shin splints from recurring.



Varicose veins

Varicose veins are swollen, twisted veins that you can see just under the skin. They are most common in the legs, but also can form in other parts of the body. 

Your veins are comprised of one-way valves that help keep blood flowing toward your heart. If the valves are damaged or weakened, blood can back up and pool in your veins. This causes the veins to swell, which can lead to varicose veins. Varicose veins are common to be quite painful.

Varicose veins are very common and have higher risk if you are older, female, obesity, don't exercise, or have a family history of varicose veins. They can also be more common in pregnancy.

Exercising, losing weight, elevating your legs when resting, and not crossing them when sitting can help keep varicose veins from becoming worse. Compression socks manage varicose veins very well. If varicose veins become too painful, you may want to consider removing them with a vascular surgeon.



Cellulitis of your lower extremity is an infection of the skin and deep underlying tissues. Group A strep (streptococcal) bacteria are the most common cause of cellulitis. The bacteria typically enter your body through an injury such as a bruise, burn, surgical cut, or wound.

Symptoms include

  • Fever and chills

  • Swollen glands or lymph nodes

  • A rash with painful, red, tender skin. The skin may blister and scab over.

Cellulitis is managed with antibiotics and may require admission if they become severe.


Blood clots

Deep vein thrombosis, or DVT, is a blood clot that forms in a vein deep in the body. Most deep vein clots occur in the lower leg or thigh, but can occur anywhere. A deep vein thrombosis can break loose and cause a serious problem in the lung, called a pulmonary embolism.

Sitting still for a long time can make you more likely to get a DVT. Some medicines and disorders that increase your risk for blood clots can also lead to DVTs. Common symptoms are

  • Warmth and tenderness over the vein

  • Pain or swelling in the part of the body affected

  • Skin redness

Treatment includes medicines to ease pain and inflammation, break up clots and keep new clots from forming. Keeping the affected area raised and applying moist heat can also help. If you are taking a long car or plane trip, take a break, walk or stretch your legs and drink plenty of liquids.

DVTs require a venous duplex for definitive diagnosis. If you are unable to see your doctor, proceed to the ER for an evaluation.

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