Shin Splints – Causes, Treatment & Prevention
Shin splints are a common overuse injury that mainly affects runners, military members, and people with osteoporosis. This injury happens in the lower leg pull when the muscles and bones become irritated. Most people recover from shin splints without any long-term health problems; however, shin splints do have the potential to develop into a tibial stress fracture.
The tugging of the muscles and connective tissues in the lower leg and repeated stress to the shin bone is how shin splints commonly develop. Your shin bone can become inflamed or weakened by frequent, repetitive pressure from running and jumping.
Who is affected by shin splints?
Shin splints are more common in a few groups (although anyone can get shin splints).
Some groups with a higher risk of shin splints include:
- Runners: If you run on uneven surfaces or suddenly increase your running program, be mindful of your shin pain
- Athletes who play high-impact sports that put stress on the legs
- People who march or walk a lot like military members
- People who wear unsupportive shoes when exercising
- Walking extreme distances
- Individuals who may already have weaker bones from osteoporosis
What are the symptoms of shin splints?
Commonly, the symptom of shin splints is if your shin bone is tender to the touch.
Pain from shin splints can:
- Commonly be seen on the inner lower part of the leg or front of the shin bone
- Start off as come-and-go discomfort with activity and progress to a steady and persistent pain even after the activity has ended
- Be sharp or a dull ache
- Get worse after activity
What are the treatments for shin splints?
You need to give your muscles and bones time to heal, this will help relieve your symptoms. Shin splints usually improve with a combination of:
- Rest:Take a break from sports, running, and other activities to give your muscles and bones a chance to recover
- Ice: Ice helps relieve the swelling and pain of shin splints
- Pain relievers:Over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can ease pain and swelling
- Supportive shoes and shoe inserts: For people who have flat feet, shoe inserts (orthotics) can be effective at relieving the pain of shin splints
- Physical therapy: Therapy can be helpful, especially with assistance returning to running
How can you prevent shin splints?
You can reduce your risk of developing shin splints (not always prevent shin splints). To lower your risk, you can:
- Warm-up before exercising & stretch your muscles
- Wear supportive shoes when exercising and consider wearing orthotic inserts that support your arches
- Avoid sudden increases in physical activity. Start slowly, and increase your activity level and intensity over time
- Add low-impact exercises like swimming to your routine
- Do not try to push through shin pain. If you are noticing pain, reduce your activity level until this improves.
Speak with an Orthopedic Specialist Today
Are you suffering from a recent injury? Make an appointment with one of our orthopedic specialists today to start your healing journey. OrthoArizona has nearly two dozen offices throughout the Valley, each focused on quality care, compassion, and excellent customer service. Since 1994, OrthoArizona has been dedicated to compassionate care of the highest quality.
The advice and information contained in this article are for educational purposes only and are not intended to replace or counter a physician’s advice or judgment. Please always consult your physician before taking any advice learned here or in any other educational, medical material.