If you’ve ever experienced aching or throbbing, or perhaps some mild swelling in your lower limbs, you may have suffered from what are known as “shin splints,” also medically known as medial tibial stress syndrome.
What are shin splints exactly?
Shin splints refer to the pain caused by inflammation of the muscles and tendons that surround the shin bone, or tibia. Stress fractures which are tiny breaks in the bone, may or may not be present.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms include pain along the inner part of the lower leg that can be constant, or that develops with exercise, mild swelling, and sometimes weakness or numbness.
Who is most at risk?
Typically, runners and other athletes who are active on hard surfaces are at most risk for developing shin splints. Intensified or new training routines may be the cause of this pain, and it’s important to recognize and treat the symptoms to prevent them from reoccurring.
How do I treat them?
Treatment can begin right at home if shin splints are suspected. Remember the acronym R.I.C.E.? Rest Ice Elevation Compression – Rest is the key to recovery. Make sure you avoid strenuous activity that reproduce the pain, or try low impact exercises such as swimming or bicycling. Ice the affected leg for 20-30 minutes every 3-4 hours for a few days, or until pain is gone. In addition, you can elevate your legs by propping them on a pillow at night. This will help with circulation and decreasing the inflammation. Compression, or wrapping the sore area with an elastic bandage (such as an Ace wrap), will help decrease swelling as well.
If symptoms persist, a trip to the doctor may be necessary. A physician will carefully review your symptoms and may request an X-ray to rule out any other possible causes for the pain. Anti-inflammatory medications may also be prescribed to help decrease inflammation and discomfort.
There are several measures you can take to help prevent shin splints in the future. Remember that this usually comes on with exercise, so always take the time to stretch and warm up beforehand. Wear comfortable shoes with shock-absorption, especially when on hard surfaces, and don’t work out when barefoot! When recovering, return to activity gradually and/or at the recommendation of your doctor. So the next time you think you may have shin splints, just remember these helpful tips and you will be back on the field in no time!
The information provided is for general interest only and should not be misconstrued as a diagnosis, prognosis or treatment recommendation. This information does not in any way constitute the practice of medicine, or any other health care profession. Readers are directed to consult their health care provider regarding their specific health situation. Marque Medical is not liable for any action taken by a reader based upon this information.