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Recognition and Treatment of Leg Pain in Athletes

Leg pain is a common complaint among athletes in running and jumping sports, and can be a significant, even career-ending, disability. Clinical conditions considered in the differential diagnosis of leg pain in an athlete include medial tibial stress syndrome, stress fracture, chronic exertional compartment syndrome, and popliteal artery entrapment syndrome. Although the sources of leg pain in the athlete are varied, a thorough history and physical examination can help define contributing factors, of which duration, location, and intensity of the pain and its pattern with respect to activity level are most important. Additional testing depends on the differential diagnosis, but includes radiography in most patients and selected use of other imaging modalities. Treatment for most conditions is conservative and involves rest or a change in training regimen.