There are many conditions that can cause bone pain in the legs. Some are not serious and heal with the right treatment, while in other cases this symptom signals an underlying medical condition. Given this, it is important to not self-diagnose bone pain and to talk with a health care provider so a proper diagnosis can be made. Once the cause of bone pain in the leg is determined, then the right treatment approach can be started.
Shin Splints and Stress Fractures
During periods of intense training or if a sedentary person abruptly starts exercising, the body may not be able to handle the increased workload. The bones can fatigue and become painful, states the University of Maryland Medical Center. If not allowed to heal, the bone can develop fractures. The most common site for this type of overuse injury is the shin bones, which can develop shin splints or stress fractures.
If overuse is the cause a period of rest, ice, elevation and possibly immobilizing the leg may be necessary. It will be important to return to activities slowly and adopt good training techniques.
If there is serious infection in the body or if an infection continues untreated, the bacteria can travel through the bloodstream and infect bones. Any bone in the body can develop an infection, including the leg bones. Without treatment, part of the bone can die, warns the Merck Manuals Online Medical Library. If an infection is the cause, other symptoms, such as fever, chills, fatigue, weight loss, redness and swelling, may also occur along with the bone pain.
Tumors can occur in the bone, and can be benign or cancerous. These tumors can originate in the bone, or spread to the bone from another area and cause bone pain at the site of the tumor. The pain may be dull, achy, get worse with activity or flare up during the night, notes MedlinePlus. However, in some cases there is no pain, just a noticeable mass.
Benign tumors do not usually require treatment, while cancerous ones may require radiation, chemotherapy or surgery.
Throughout life bones are constantly being broken down and replaced by new bone. This process allows fractures to heal. However, certain circumstances such as poor blood flow, smoking, age, anemia, infections and some medications can interfere with the bones' ability to heal properly. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, this can lead to what is called a nonunion of the bone, which usually causes pain at the site of the fracture.
The bones at most risk are the thigh, shin and foot bones as there tends to be less blood supply to these areas. There are various treatments a physician may recommend to help the bones heal correctly.