Leg Injuries - Topic Overview
Minor leg injuries are common. Symptoms often
develop from everyday wear and tear, overuse, or an injury. Leg injuries are
most likely to occur during:
- Sports or recreational
- Work-related tasks.
- Work or projects around
Most leg injuries in children and teens occur during sports or
play or from accidental falls. The risk for injury is higher in contact sports,
such as wrestling, football, or soccer, and in high-speed sports, such as biking,
in-line skating, skiing, snowboarding, and skateboarding. Knees, ankles, and
feet are the most affected body areas. Any injury occurring at the end of a
long bone near a joint may injure the growth plate and needs to be checked by a
Older adults have a higher risk for injuries and fractures
because they lose muscle mass and bone strength (osteoporosis)
as they age. They also have more problems with vision and balance, which
increases their risk for accidental injury.
Most minor injuries
will heal on their own, and home treatment is usually all that is needed to
relieve symptoms and promote healing.
An acute injury may occur
from a direct blow, a penetrating injury, a fall, or from twisting, jerking,
jamming, or bending a limb abnormally. Pain may be sudden and severe. Bruising
and swelling may develop soon after the injury. Acute injuries usually require
prompt medical evaluation and may include:
- Bruises (contusions ), which occur when small
blood vessels under the skin tear or rupture, often from a twist, bump, or
fall. Blood leaks into tissues under the skin and causes a black-and-blue color
that often turns colors, including purple, red, yellow, and green, as the
- Injuries to the tough, ropey fibers (ligaments)
that connect bone to bone and help stabilize joints (sprains).
- Injuries to the tough, ropey
fibers that connect muscle to bone (tendons), such as a ruptured
- Pulled muscles (strains), such as a hamstring strain.
- Muscle ruptures, such as gastrocnemius
- Broken bones (fractures). A
break, such as a lower leg fracture , may occur when a bone is twisted, bent, jammed, struck directly, or used
to brace against a fall.
- Pulling or pushing bones out of the normal
relationship to the other bones that make up a joint (dislocations).