Commentary by Dr. Joseph Hui
In this column, I’ll be focusing on common running injuries to the lower leg and foot. The most common injury to the lower leg is what we call shin splints, or as referred to by the medical world – medial tibial stress syndrome.
A common symptom of this injury is widespread pain over the front of the leg. Pain typically begins after a consistent period of running and immediately improves after you stop but can linger for a few hours even while walking.
Stress fractures of the tibia can be trickier to diagnose. This injury can have similar symptoms to shin splints but with more pain targeted along the bone when examined. It’s important to delineate between the two because continued running on a stress fracture can make it worse over time. Ultrasound, along with X-rays, can often help distinguish between the two issues.
When it comes to feet and running, there are many things that can go awry. These can generally be separated into bone issues and non-bone issues, such as tendons, muscles and ligaments. Stress fractures of the bone can affect the toes, forefoot and midfoot and are often treated with rest. Occasionally, medical boots can be used if it hurts to walk as well as run.
As for non-bone injuries, the most common issue is due to tendinopathy or tendinosis of the Achilles tendon. This often manifests as a painful lump on the back of the ankle. Pain on the inside of the ankle is often associated with posterior tibial tendinopathy. Tendinopathies of various tendons are generally treated the same (for more on tendinopathy search the Current website for “Hui + tendinopathy”). Orthotics and proper running shoes can often be helpful to reduce these types of injuries. If rest doesn’t seem to solve an injury after two to four weeks, you should probably get an evaluation from your physician.