Man experiencing shin pain.

Is This Serious? Why Does the Front of My Leg Hurt?

Amanda Nitchos Ankle pain, Foot pain, Is this serious?, Limb pain, Pain


If you’re experiencing pain anywhere from the bottom half of your leg down to your big toe, it’s not only frustrating but concerning, too. Many people with pain in this area assume they have shin splints, but did you know that “shin splints” is often used as an umbrella term for any pain, strain, and inflammation involving muscles around the shin? This means that there could be a number of specific conditions causing the pain you’re experiencing, including tibialis anterior muscle strain. While you should always seek medical care for any injury, sometimes you want to know: is this serious? Today, we’re going to look at the symptoms, causes, and treatments for tibialis anterior muscle strain.


If you’re suffering from tibialis anterior muscle strain, it’s common to feel pain anywhere from your knee down to your big toe. You might notice these symptoms at the front of your lower leg, ankle, and/or foot:

  • pain – burning, cramping, or aching
  • swelling
  • tension or pressure
  • weakness

Flexing your foot upward towards your body, walking or running, climbing stairs, and even operating the gas and brake pedals while driving can cause these symptoms to appear or flare up. These symptoms may come and go or be persistent, and they may worsen depending on your activity level and how much you have exercised your leg muscles that day.


Your lower leg has four compartments—each one is made up of tissue, nerves, muscle, tendon, and blood vessels. The tibialis anterior muscle runs along the outside of the tibia, or shin bone, and connects to the bone just behind your big toe. If you’re experiencing front of leg pain, you may have caused trauma to the area or the muscle directly by:

  • falling
  • increasing workout intensity or duration
  • striking the lower leg
  • running or jumping on hard surfaces
  • walking style, or gait


If you’re experiencing pain, swelling, or weakness in the lower leg, ankle, or foot, you should practice RICE and seek an assessment from a qualified physiotherapist.

Your physiotherapist can offer you a customized treatment plan that can include:

  • activity modification
  • stretching/strengthening
  • hot/cold therapy
  • joint mobilization
  • re-injury prevention

The use of orthotics may also be recommended to help address your gait and relieve unnecessary strain on your legs.

Although it can be tempting to try and walk it off, you may be doing further damage to your leg. If you’re experiencing front of leg pain, contact pt Health today so we can help you to get well and stay well!

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