The section of the leg between the knee and foot is called the lower leg. Its bony base is formed by the shinbone (tibia) and the fibula (fibula), which are connected to each other in the area of the knee by a relatively rigid joint and are in a band-like joint connection to each other below in the area of the ankle. The fibula is arranged on the back, the shin forms the front of the lower leg, with the shin hardly covered by muscles towards the front. The calf muscles are clearly visible on the back of the fibula. The lower leg fascia surrounds the entire muscles, nerves and vessels of the lower leg as connective tissue. The individual muscle groups are separated from each other by the fascia.
The most common complaints in the lower leg are calf pain, the best known cause of which is calf cramps. They result from excessive muscle tone (muscle tension) and can occur, for example, when the muscles are overworked or when there is a lack of magnesium. Calf cramps usually last only a few minutes, but can occur repeatedly within short periods. Those who regularly suffer from leg cramps should have this examined by a doctor, since more serious impairments, such as nerve or vascular disorders, can also be behind the symptoms.
Calf pain is also a key symptom of leg vein or calf vein thrombosis (occlusion of the leg veins by a blood clot). In such a case, swelling of the lower leg and feet, overheating and discoloration, as well as tight skin and pain, which can range from the foot to the calf to the back of the knee, are further distinctive warning signals. In the worst case scenario, thrombosis can result in life-threatening complications, which is why a doctor or hospital should be consulted immediately if there is appropriate information.
The so-called peripheral arterial disease is also caused by impairments of the blood vessels. It is usually associated with arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and affects the arterial blood supply in the legs in the majority of patients. Typical symptoms here are pain, weakness as well as poor circulation, cold and pale skin. However, the complaints usually only appear when the disease is already at an advanced stage. Since peripheral arterial disease is associated with an increased risk of serious diseases of the cardiovascular system, including myocardial infarction and stroke, therapeutic countermeasures should be initiated urgently.
Other symptoms in the lower leg area include the compartment syndrome and the tibia edge syndrome. The former is caused by an increased pressure on the tissue within the so-called muscle logs, which arises when, for example, swelling occurs as a result of a muscle squeeze or fracture and the surrounding fascia cannot expand accordingly. The increased pressure leads to a reduction in tissue blood flow and damage to the muscles and nerves. The tissue begins to die and irreparable damage can occur after a short time. Excessive training can also be the cause of the compartment syndrome if it causes the muscles to grow faster than the fascia can expand.
The shinbone syndrome is characterized by pain on the front of the lower leg, which is usually associated with increased stress such as long-distance running or other sports activities. The cause of the tibia pain can also be an inflammation of the periosteum or an inflammation at the base of the muscle tendon. Although the shinbone syndrome does not generally pose a major health risk, the therapy can drag on for up to six weeks and those affected are sometimes significantly restricted in their everyday life during this time. (fp)