Shin splints are a common problem in people who run, dance, or military recruits. Shin splints are when you have pain along the inner part of your shinbone, the bone that runs along the front of your leg. It is an exercise related problem that usually occurs after vigorous activity. Anyone can develop shin splints.
Shin splints are when there is inflammation of the muscles, tendons, and bone tissue around the tibia. The repetitive action can cause the muscles and bone tissue in the leg to become overworked.
Changes in your exercise routine such as frequency, intensity, or duration can all lead to your legs being overworked which can cause shin splints.
Other causes of shin splints are having flat feet, or having abnormally rigid arches, or high arches.
Wearing improper footwear when exercising can also cause strain on your legs and cause shin splints.
What you are running on can also be a factor. Such as uneven terrain, or an incline such as hills.
The main symptom of shin splints is pain that runs along the front of your legs. It can happen in one or both legs. Pain may ease up after you are done exercising. In some cases though the pain will continue for days after your exercise.
Pain may feel sharp and razor like or dull and throbbing.
Pain may be aggravated if you press or touch the area in the front of the leg.
Diagnosis & Treatment
Shin splints may resolve on their own. If the pain continues and doesn’t get better it is best to be seen by a doctor. The doctor will discuss your medical history with you and do a physical exam. They may want to do x-rays of your legs to make sure there isn’t another problem like a fracture.
Treatment may be dependent on your age, overall health, how you handle certain medicines, procedures, and therapies, and how long your condition seems to be lasting. Shin splints may resolve on their own with you just resting, and stopping any vigorous activity. You may not have to stop all forms of exercise, but switch to low impact exercises like swimming.
Healing your shin splints can vary in time per patient. Some people may see huge improvement after a few weeks, while it is not uncommon to not see any improvement for 3-6 months.
Rest is the main form of treatment. Stopping the repetition, and the frequency you are putting strain on those muscles. Stretching before you exercise and afterwards can also help alleviate pain caused by shin splints.
Cold packs can help decrease inflammation. Start with using a cold pack for 30 minutes every 3-4 hours until the pain subsides or goes away.
Compression socks or sleeves can help during your activity. Strengthening exercises of the front part of your leg can also help your shin splints.
Taking over the counter pain medication such as ibuprofen can help with both the pain and the inflammation that occurs with shin splints.
When exercising make sure you are wearing the proper footwear. Make sure your running shoes have a stiff heel and special arch support.
Shin splints can be prevented as long as you don’t overdo your activity level. Make sure you are warming up and stretching before every activity. Stretching afterwards can also help.
Ice your legs after exercise even if you don’t feel any pain. It will help decrease inflammation in the muscles, tendons, and bone tissue around the tibia.
Avoid running or exercising on hard surfaces if possible. Wear the proper shoes. Look into shock absorbent insoles for your shoes, or special insoles for higher arches.
You will know your shin splints are healed if you go 2 weeks with no pain. If your leg or legs feel flexible and if they are feeling strong. If you can push on spots on your leg that used to be painful and they no longer are. If you can jog, sprint, and jump without pain your shin splints are most likely healed.
Though you can heal your shin splints they can come back. If you rush back into exercising too soon, or if your exercises are too vigorous. If your shin splints repeatedly come back after healing completely your doctor may want you to go see a physical therapist, who can help teach you strengthening exercises, as well as specific ways to stretch before you exercise.
You may also want to switch up your workouts, to add in some low impact sports among your high impact exercises, to give your body time to rest and heal in between exercises. Not allowing your shin splints to heal can cause tiny stress fractures in your tibia.
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Changes in your exercise routine or intensity can cause shin splints! Know how to treat your pain! #HealthSurgeon