Emmi Patient Education
Emmi is a series of free, unique, web-based educational programs for Houston Methodist patients that make complex medical information easy to understand.
Exercise-Induced Compartment Syndrome
Young patients who develop painful leg cramping with exertion that resolves with rest may have this condition. It is caused by excessive pressure build-up in the leg which blocks the flow of new blood to the muscles. It usually affects both legs, and can also cause numbness and tingling on the top of the foot. The pressure can be monitored during exercise and if it is too high, surgical release may be offered to allow pain-free return to running.
Many patients develop leg pain while running which resolves with rest. This is the most common cause. It usually affects both legs. It is related to inflammation where the muscles attach to the back of the leg bone (tibia), and is also known as posterior-medial tibial stress syndrome. It generally improves with calf stretching, physical therapy, and NSAIDs. Surgery is not needed.
Tibial Stress Fractures
While the symptoms may be similar to shin splints, a stress fracture usually only affects one leg. While it initially causes pain with running, it can progress to being painful even with walking or at rest. It usually heals with rest and perhaps the use of a bone stimulator. Surgery is reserved for cases that fail to heal on their own.