Shin splints or medial tibial stress syndrome, tibial stress syndrome, and tibial periostitis, is a musculoskeletal injury characterized by pain in the lower leg between the ankle and the knee. It is usually experienced by athletes who perform running sports such as football, or people who engage in activities like hiking and other activities involving the legs. Shin splints account to 13% of all running injuries, which makes it a common injury for athletes and a common problem seen at your local Wesley Chapel chiropractor.
Shin splints develop as a result of repeated trauma in the muscles around the tibia. Shin splints result because trauma to the muscles in the lower leg reduces the ability of the muscles to distribute weight or reduce tension on the bones. As a result, the tibia becomes injured. Over pronation may also cause shin splints. As your feet become flat as it reaches the ground, the muscles in the lower legs are stretched leading to muscle injury in the area. There are no fractures associated with shin splints, but unmanaged cases may eventually result to stress fractures because of continued stress to the bone.
The most common symptom of shin splints is aching and throbbing in your shins in the lower leg. The pain is characterized as dull and may be constant or intermittent. Some people may feel the pain during exercise or leg activity, while other feel it at rest. The lower leg also may feel tender and some patients actually experience numbness of the area.
To ensure proper treatment for the condition, X-rays are being done to determine if the problem is really shin splint or not.
Treatments for Shin Splints
Mild cases of shin splints can resolve on its own; however, people are still encouraged to employ measures to enhance and speed recovery. Treatments for shin splints consist of conservative managements including:
Since shin splints are commonly caused by repeated trauma, rest is the first management to be employed. Rest prevents further injury to the area and allows for better recovery especially for athletes who train every day.
- Ice Packs
Icing the affected area reduces inflammation or swelling. Cold temperature usually constricts the blood vessels around the area to minimize tissue swelling. Icing also reduces pain by numbing the area. Ice packs should be applied for 30 minutes three times a day within 48 hours of injury.
- Anti-inflammatory Drugs
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs are the most common drugs that are prescribed for shin splints. These may include naproxen, ibuprofen and aspirin. They inhibit the production of inflammatory chemicals, thereby reducing the inflammatory reaction and pain.
- Range of Motion Exercises
Rest is recommended for the first 24 hours of injury, after which, range of motion exercises of the leg should be employed to promote optimum functioning of the limb.
- Physical Therapy
For people with significant affectation of mobility, physical therapy helps in strengthening the muscles around the shin to increase support to the affected leg/s.
Orthotics are simple devices inserted in the shoe to provide support to the arch of the foot to prevent over pronation or flat feet.
Recovery is noted if the affected leg is as strong as the unaffected leg and you can do activities like walking, running and jumping without any pain.