Common causes of ankle pain, shin pain, and calf pain include shin splints, calf strain, Achilles’ tendonitis, ankle sprains, and a broken leg. Lower leg and ankle injuries are either acute sudden onset injuries, such as an ankle sprain or they may come on gradually through overuse or poor foot biomechanics.

Shin Pain
Shin splints are not an injury in itself but are a general term for pain in the shin, which may come from a number of causes. Symptoms of the various conditions include pain and inflammation on the lower third of the shin bone. We explain the common causes of medial tibial shin pain as well as treatment programs and exercises. Anterior shin splints are pain on the outside of the shin often caused by a compartment syndrome in the big tibialis anterior muscle.
Achilles Tendon Pain
Achilles tendonitis is an overuse injury causing pain and inflammation over the Achilles tendon at the back of the lower leg. Symptoms include redness and thickening of the Achilles tendon. Achilles tendinopathy is the name given to describe a range of conditions that give similar symptoms to Achilles tendinitis, including degeneration of the Achilles tendon and inflammation of the sheath surrounding the Achilles tendon. Our Achilles tendinitis treatment program takes you through rehabilitation, including sports massage and Achilles stretching and strengthening exercises.
Ankle Sprain
A sprained ankle is probably the most common sports injury that causes ankle pain. Once injured, an ankle sprain is likely to recur, but it doesn’t have to be that way. We explain how to properly treat and rehabilitate an ankle sprain in the shortest possible time as well as ankle exercises, ankle braces, and ankle taping, which will help avoid future ankle injuries recurring. We also have several wobble board exercises that should help prevent further injury.
Calf Pain

A calf strain is a tear of one of the muscles, usually the big gastrocnemius muscle at the back of the lower leg. Calf strains are graded 1, 2, or 3, depending on how severe they are. We look at the symptoms, treatment, and exercises to help rehabilitate a calf strain. Another cause of calf pain at the back of the lower leg is compartment syndrome. This is when the muscle becomes too big for the sheath that surrounds it, increasing pressure within the muscle and causing pain.

A deep vein thrombosis or DVT is a blood clot in a vein. A DVT, although a rare cause of calf pain, is a serious and potentially life-threatening condition that should not be misdiagnosed. It is more common in the legs, especially after a period of inactivity, such as during a long-haul plane flight. Symptoms include constant pain in the calf muscles with tenderness and swelling at a deep point in the muscle.

Leg fractures can occur to either the tibia or fibula bones in the lower leg usually through physical contact or some kind of accident. A fibula fracture is a break to the smaller of the two lower leg bones on the outside of the shin and can be caused by a direct impact, or from a stress fracture and overuse. The fibula can also fracture as a result of a bad eversion ankle sprain where the foot turns in violently. A stress fracture is a hairline fracture usually in the tibia shin bone. Symptoms are similar to that of shin splints and a tibia stress fracture will not show up on an X-ray until after it has started to heal. A broken ankle is a fracture of any of the bones which form the ankle joint, including the tibia, fibula and talus.
A bursa is a small sack of fluid which is found in joints between a tendon and a bone. Its purpose is to lubricate the tendon allowing it to move freely. A bursa can become inflamed and swollen causing pain through overuse. Achilles bursitis is inflammation of the bursa at the back of the heel. Pain will be felt at the back of the heel along with a spongy swelling. This is also known as retrocalcaneal bursitis. When Achilles bursitis occurs at the same time as Achilles tendonitis, this is known as Haglund’s syndrome.

Common Symptoms:

  • Pain developed gradually
  • Pain increases with exercise
  • Pain at the back of the heel
  • Tender to touch the heel bone
  • Swelling
  • Red and warm to the touch
  • Footwear rubs and aggravates the pain
  • Pain eases with rest
  • Pain after exercise
  • Sudden onset of pain
  • Bruising
  • Pain when rising onto tiptoes
  • Tenderness when pressing the Achilles tendon
  • Nodules or lumps felt in the Achilles tendon
  • Pain worse in the morning
  • Pain in the calf
  • Tender to press into the calf muscles
  • Tight calf muscles
  • Pain when stretching the calf muscles
  • Tingling or numbness
  • Deformity
  • Pain on the outer midfoot
  • Pain on the outer ankle
  • Tender to touch on the outer midfoot
  • Pain when running a curve
  • Reduced ankle movement
  • Pain on weight bearing
  • Tender to touch on the outer ankle
  • Decreased sensitivity on the front/side of the leg or top of the foot
  • Spasm of the muscles
  • Pain in the back of the knee
  • Pain when pressing the inner top of the calf muscles
  • A hard area in the calf muscles
  • Pain on the inner ankle
  • Pain when pointing the foot down
  • Pain on kicking a ball
  • Pain when the ankle is forced into plantar flexion (downward)
  • Pain inside the ankle joint
  • Inability to weight bear
  • Pain in the shin
  • Pain the morning after exercise
  • Tender to press just inside the shin bone
  • Pain on stretching the shin muscles
  • Pain when starting exercise which fades throughout
  • Pain when pressing a specific point on the bone
  • Pain on the outer leg
  • A bony lump at the front of the ankle
  • Pain when pushing the foot outward against resistance
  • Pain when turning the sole of the foot in against resistance
  • Tender to touch the inner ankle
  • History of tibialis posterior injuries
  • A fallen arch
  • Pain when the ankle is forced into dorsiflexion (upward)
  • Weakness when lifting the foot upward
  • Constant pain
  • Pain at the front of the ankle
  • Pain when lifting the foot up against resistance
  • No pain
  • Foot drop
  • Pain in the Achilles tendon
  • A popping/snapping sound or sensation
  • A gap may be felt in the Achilles tendon
  • Inability to stand on tip toes
  • No foot movement when squeezing the calf muscles (Thompson’s test)
  • Pain at the back of the ankle
  • Stiffness in the mornings
  • Tender to touch the ankle bone
  • Clicking, catching or locking
  • Tender when pressing in the front of the ankle

Getting a Diagnosis for your Lower Leg Pain
If you have tingling, numbness, or pain in your lower leg, shin, Achilles, or ankle, see a doctor. He or she will take your medical history, examine you, and possibly perform tests. These may include X-rays, imaging scans, or blood tests. After the examination, the pain management doctors and pain management professionals at Colorado Injury and Pain Specialists will clearly explain to you the condition, possible sources of your pain, and which pain treatment will help.

Our providers will help determine the best course of action to help you with your lower leg, shin, achilles and ankle pain.

Informational Forms