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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:
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 doctor.
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:
Overuse injuries occur when too much stress is placed on a joint or other tissue, often by "overdoing" an activity or doing the same activity repeatedly. Overuse injuries include:
Treatment for a leg injury may include rest, ice, elevation, and other first aid measures (such as the application of a brace, splint, or cast), or physical therapy. Some leg injuries are treated with medicine or surgery, especially if a bone is broken. Treatment depends on:
Check your symptoms to decide if and when you should see a doctor.
If a cast or splint is applied, it is important to keep it dry and try to move the uninjured parts of your extremity as normally as possible to help maintain muscle strength and tone. Your doctor will give you instructions on how to care for your cast or splint.
If your injury does not require an evaluation by a doctor, you may be able to use home treatment to help relieve pain, swelling, and stiffness.
|Try a nonprescription medicine to help treat your fever or pain:|
Talk to your child's doctor before switching back and forth between doses of acetaminophen and ibuprofen. When you switch between two medicines, there is a chance your child will get too much medicine.
|Be sure to follow these safety tips when you use a nonprescription medicine:|
Call your doctor if any of the following occur during home treatment:
The following tips may prevent leg injuries.
Bodily injuries such as bruises, burns, fractures, cuts, or punctures may be caused by abuse. Suspect possible abuse when an injury cannot be explained or does not match the explanation, when repeated injuries occur, or when the explanations for the cause of the injury change. You may be able to prevent further abuse by reporting it and seeking help.
To prepare for your appointment, see the topic Making the Most of Your Appointment.
You can help your doctor diagnose and treat your condition by being prepared to answer the following questions:
|Primary Medical Reviewer||William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine|
|Specialist Medical Reviewer||H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine|
|Last Revised||September 19, 2012|
Last Revised: September 19, 2012
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