Shin splints are a common form of pain that occurs along the tibia bone, better known as the shin.
Shin splints are common in those who put repeated pressure on their legs due to running, standing, or heavy lifting.
Therefore, many people who live active lifestyles may be prone to developing this painful condition.
Medically known as “medial tibial stress syndrome”, shin splints are caused by a sudden increase in workout intensity that causes increased pressure to be applied to the muscles and connective tissues surrounding the tibia and fibula bones. This extra stress causes the tibia and its surrounding connective tissues that connect the tibia to the muscles of the lower leg to become inflamed.
It can also cause minor tears and bruising that lead to the sharp pain associated with shin splints. These small injuries cause inflammation of the muscles, tendons, and ligaments that surround the tibia. Shin splints occur when these tissues become overworked due to too much activity or a lack of flexibility.
Common symptoms of shin splints include:
- Tenderness to the touch
- Sharp pain to inner portion of lower leg
- Decreased flexibility
- Redness and swelling
If shin splints are not treated properly when first experienced, they can lead to more major injuries such as a stress fracture to the tibia or fibula bones of the lower limb.
Shin Splint Treatment Options
Most cases of shin splints are easily treated at home with some simple self-care measures that include:
- Rest (Completely remove pressure from lower leg)
- Pain medication
- Stretching and massage
While shin splints are most often treated at home by the simple RICE protocol (rest, ice, compress, and elevate), some cases may not be resolved by these simple methods. If symptoms persist, you should contact our clinic in order to receive professional diagnosis and treatment to ensure there is not a more serious underlying problem or a risk for more severe injury.
Stretching and massaging the surrounding muscles of the foot and calf may help to reduce the pain being caused by the stressed connective tissue. This should only be performed by a professional, as incorrect techniques could serve to make the condition worse.
How to Prevent Shin Splints
While shin splints are a common injury that can occur in anyone with an active lifestyle, there are some basic practices that can help to reduce your risk of contraction.
These methods include:
- Drinking plenty of water
- Stretching the lower limb more often
- Strength training for your calves
- Shock absorbing insoles for your shoes
By drinking plenty of water and stretching, you can greatly reduce the risk of connective tissue problems.
In addition, adding a strength training routine for your lower legs braces them for continued activity and will strengthen the connective tissues that can cause shin splints.
For runners, it has been found that incorrect or unique running techniques may add to your risk of getting shin splints. In many cases of runners and athletes who consistently experience shin splints, a simple change to your technique may solve the issue. If you have flat feet, you are also at a much higher risk of developing shin splints, especially if you do not wear arch-supporting insoles.
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above and believe you have shin splints, contact us today. Our friendly and professional staff led by a well respected podiatrist with years of successful shin splint treatment can help properly treat and prevent the condition from worsening.