Stress fractures of the lower leg typically occur due to overuse. The repeated pounding of your feet on hard surfaces can cause the shin bone, ankles, or feet to develop small cracks (fractures), causing pain and discomfort to the lower leg. Any activity that requires lots of running and strain on the foot may result in lower leg stress fractures, such as gymnastics or track and field. However, lower leg stress fractures may also affect people who have weaker bones.
Lower leg stress fractures are often misdiagnosed as shin splints. If you’re experiencing lower leg pain, check with your doctor to determine the cause of your discomfort. Here are some ways your physician may treat lower leg stress fractures.
- Rest. Typically your leg will need 6 to 8 weeks to heal, during which you should avoid high impact activities. Swimming or biking may be good alternatives to your normal workout.
- Wear a lower leg brace. Protective footwear such as the Aircast Leg Brace can help support your leg. They guard the outside of the injured area while providing enough support to allow you to move around. We like the Aircast Leg Brace because it stabilizes the lower leg to support while it heals. Plus you can wear the Aircast Leg Brace with your regular shoes.
- Eat healthy foods. Maintain a vitamin-rich diet during and after your injury to help strengthen your bones and to prevent future stress fractures.
- Strength training. After your leg has completely healed, your doctor may recommend physical therapy to develop your strength back. Stronger muscles may also help prevent future lower leg stress fractures and in some cases it can decrease the loss of bone density.
As always, consult your doctor for the appropriate treatment for your situation.