Sunday, January 18, 2009

Correctly Identifying Causes of Leg Pain

This following article is taken from work of following authors:
Korkola M, Amendola A. Exercise-induced leg pain. The Physician and Sportsmedicine June 2001:29(6). Available at
"Shin splints," a form of exercise-related leg pain, may account for up to 60% of leg pain syndromes, but this term has too often been used to describe leg pain caused by multiple disorders.The multiple causes of exertional leg pain are difficult to discern as the source of the problem, but in many cases are associated with repetitive stress.The authors of this review of the literature prefer to name exercise-related painful symptoms in the leg as "exercise-induced leg pain" until a clear diagnosis is made. Through appropriate physical examination and other procedures, such as diagnostic imaging or nerve conduction velocity tests, the doctor can arrive at an appropriate diagnosis.
This paper provides an overview of several common leg complaints related to exercise. Some information gleaned from this paper is represented below:
* Periostitis (medial tibial stress syndrome) is the most common cause of exertional leg pain.
* Tibial stress fractures, occurring in 10-20% of all athletic injuries, are difficult to examine using plain film radiographs because findings may not be visible for up to 12 weeks.
* Peripheral neuropathy may be linked to ankle sprains when the peroneal nerve is compressed where it passes around the fibular neck.
* Spinal stenosis is most common in middle-aged or older patients, who may have a history of low back pain. This condition can cause leg pain.
* Peripheral vascular disease causes an aching cramp when walking; symptoms usually resolve during rest.
Management options for the disorders presented are briefly discussed and several lifestyle modifications are suggested for these problems. Rehabilitation plays a crucial role in recovery.
Conclusion: A detailed history and physical examination are crucial when treating exercise-induced leg pain. Although this problem is difficult to treat, positive results can be achieved through an accurate and timely evaluation combined with multidisciplinary treatment.
Note: The authors of this paper provide a brief overview of each condition in a clinically relevant fashion. Information from this paper can be immediately used in practice.

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