Shin Splints

September 23, 2013 | By | Reply

–  Dr. Dhairav Shah

Do your Shins throb or pain after your daily run or when sprinting to catch a bus?

If your answer to this question is Yes, then you might have a condition known as Shin Splints.

Shin splints are very common nowadays. Runners might get them after ramping up their workout intensity, or changing the surface they run on – like shifting from a dirt path to asphalt. Shin splints are also commonly seen in dancers.

What are shin splints?

  • Shin splints are a type of “overuse injury” to the legs.
  • The pain is characteristic and located on the outer edge of the mid region of the leg next to the shinbone (tibia). It can be extreme and halt workouts.

While the exact injury is not known, shin splints seem to result from inflammation due to injury of the (posterior peroneal tendon) and adjacent tissues in the front of the outer leg.
They are most commonly seen in runners and aggressive walkers.

What are shin splints symptoms?
Shin splints cause pain in the front of the outer leg below the knee. The pain of shin splints is characteristically located on the outer edge of the mid region of the leg next to the shinbone. An area of discomfort measuring 4-6 inches (10-15 cm) in length is frequently present. Pain is often noted at the early portion of the workout, then lessens, only to reappear near the end of the training session. Shin splint discomfort is often described as dull at first. However, with continuing trauma the pain can become so extreme as to cause the athlete to stop workouts altogether.

What are risk factors for shin splints?
Risk factors for shin splints include running and over-training on hills, inadequate footwear for athletic activity, and poor biomechanics of the design of the legs and feet. They can be caused by:

  • Irritated and swollen muscles, often from overuse
  • Stress fractures which are tiny breaks in the lower leg bones
  • Overpronation or ‘flat feet’ – when the impact of a step makes your foot’s arch collapse

7 Treatment Tips for Shin Splints:
Shin splints often heal on their own. If you see a doctor, expect to get a thorough physical exam. Your doctor may want to see you run to look for problems. You may also need X-rays or bone scans to look for fractures.

  1. Rest your body. It needs time to heal.
  2. Ice your shin to ease pain and swelling. Do it for 20-30 minutes every 3 to 4 hours for 2 to 3 days, or until the pain is gone.
  3. Anti-inflammatory painkillers.
  4. Arch supports for your shoes. These orthotics, which can be custom-made, may help with flat feet.
  5. Range-of-motion exercises.
  6. Neoprene sleeve to support and warm your leg.
  7. Physical therapy to strengthen the muscles in your shins.

Rare cases need surgery, such as if you have a severe stress fracture that caused your shin splints.

4 Signs Your Shin Splints Have Healed:
Your shin splints are fully healed when:

  1. Your injured leg is as flexible as your other leg.
  2. Your injured leg feels as strong as your other leg.
  3. You can jog, sprint, and jump without pain.
  4. Your X-rays are normal or show any stress fractures have healed.

There’s no way to say exactly when your shin splints will go away. It depends on what’s causing them. People also heal at different rates; 3 to 6 months is not unusual. The most important thing is not to rush back into your sport. If you start exercising before your shin splints have healed, you may hurt yourself permanently. While you heal, you could take up a new no-impact activity that won’t aggravate your shin splints. For instance, if you run, try swimming.

How to Prevent Shin Splints;
To prevent shin splints, you should:

  • Always wear shoes with good support and padding.

  • Warm up before working out, making sure to stretch the muscles in your legs.

  • Stop working out as soon as you feel pain in your shins.

  • Don’t run or play on hard surfaces like concrete.

At PhysioRehab, we help you deal with all of the above problems – right from prescribing you the right pair of shoes and the right insoles to designing a structured rehab programme for maintenance and treatment for your shin splints.

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