Common Conditions

Leg Conditions

About knees, legs and ankles

LEG CONDITIONS EXPLAINED

Ankle Conditions

The ankle is a common area of pain and discomfort for many people, from sprain and rolled or weak ankles to tendon and ligament damage. Podiatry Illawarra can provide assistance with footwear assessments, strapping, gait analysis and custom orthotic support.

An ankle sprain is an injury to one or more ligaments in the ankle, usually on the outside of the ankle. Ligaments are bands of tissue – like rubber bands – that connect one bone to another and bind the joints together. In the ankle joint, ligaments provide stability by limiting side-to-side movement.

Some ankle sprains are much worse than others. The severity of an ankle sprain depends on whether the ligament is stretched, partially torn, or completely torn, as well as on the number of ligaments involved. Ankle sprains are not the same as strains, which affect muscles rather than ligaments.

The tarsal tunnel is a narrow space that lies on the inside of the ankle next to the ankle bones. The tunnel is covered with a thick ligament (the flexor retinaculum) that protects and maintains the structures contained within the tunnel—arteries, veins, tendons, and nerves. One of these structures is the posterior tibial nerve, which is the focus of tarsal tunnel syndrome.

Tarsal tunnel syndrome is a compression, or squeezing, on the posterior tibial nerve that produces symptoms anywhere along the path of the nerve running from the inside of the ankle into the foot.

Tarsal tunnel syndrome is similar to carpal tunnel syndrome, which occurs in the wrist. Both disorders arise from the compression of a nerve in a confined space.

Lower Leg Conditions

The lower leg is found between your ankle and knee. The lower leg is a common area for pain in all ages of people. Some conditions such as shin splints can be resultant from numerous factors. The muscles of the lower leg control the movements of the foot and provide it with stability. Increases in activity or changes in shoes sometimes cause sore muscles or tendonitis. Increase in physical activity such as starting an exercise program is a leading cause of lower leg pain, but there are many other health conditions that can cause leg pain as well.

Shin splints is a collective term used to describe a group of injuries affecting the shin bone (tibia). Overuse of muscles attaching to this bone pull excessively causing inflammation and pain. Symptoms may vary from a mild discomfort to an intense burning pain. They are most noticeable at the commencement of exercise or walking and diminish as exercise continues. Pain often returns after exercise and can be worse the next morning.

Poor foot mechanics and excess pronation (flat foot) can place extra strain on shin muscles and lead to overuse.

Weakness of the shin muscles and lower leg muscle fatigue can also be a factor in lower leg stress fractures so don’t delay in seeking treatment.

Knee Conditions

Anatomically the knee joint is considered a vulnerable joint. It is situated at the end of two very long bones so the forces upon it are great. Poorly aligned feet (i.e. flat feet) can place extra strain on the knee joint and surrounding soft tissues, leading to knee pain when playing sport.

Excess foot pronation (when the foot flattens too much during walking) will cause excessive internal rotation at the knee. This in turn can lead to poor tracking of the knee cap subsequently producing pain. This is often known as patellofemoral pain. Over time this poor alignment can lead to degeneration or arthritis within the knee joint itself causing chronic pain.

Custom made orthotics can be of great help in managing knee pain. By re-aligning the feet and lower limbs the knee adopts a more functional posture encouraging normal muscle function and better knee cap tracking.

Patellofemoral Syndrome (PFS) Patellofemoral Syndrome is a common overuse injury amongst runners. More commonly known as runner's knee for chondromalacia patella. Caused by various factors including overpronation, vastus medialis oblique muscle weakness, poor training techniques and improper or worn footwear. Symptoms include pain in and around the front of the knee, painful cracking and the knee giving way. Pain increases when going uphill. Diagnosis is normally from clinical examination or biomechanical assessment and will discuss the best course of action to relieve the symptoms. Treatment aims to reduce the inflammation and identify issues that may be contributing to the problem.

IlioTibial Band Syndrome is a painful knee injury that is located on the outer part of the knee joint radiating up the thigh or down the outer side of the shin. Caused with over pronation some runners rotate and flex their knees more than normal. More common in runners or cyclists it is normally intensified by activities and eases with rest. Diagnosis is normally from clinical examination or biomechanical assessment. Treatment aims to reduce the inflammation and identify any underlying alignment issues that may be contributing to the problem often with the use of orthotics and stretches.

Osgood-Schlatter disease can cause a painful lump below the kneecap in children and adolescents experiencing growth spurts during puberty.

Osgood-Schlatter disease occurs most often in children who participate in sports that involve running, jumping and swift changes of direction — such as soccer, basketball, figure skating and ballet.

While Osgood-Schlatter disease is more common in boys, the gender gap is narrowing as more girls become involved with sports.

Age ranges differ by sex because girls experience puberty earlier than do boys. Osgood-Schlatter disease typically occurs in boys ages 13 to 14 and girls ages 11 to 12. The condition usually resolves on its own, once the child’s bones stop growing.