A shin splint can be described as a pain felt along the front of the lower leg. People who experience shin splints commonly report that the pain is concentrated between the ankle and the knee. Doctors call shin splints medial tibial stress syndrome, or MTSS.

Who Suffers from Shin Splints?

Anyone who frequently engages in moderate to heavy physical activity can suffer from shin splints. Participants who regularly engage in stop-start sports such as tennis, soccer, basketball, and racquetball are likely to experience shin splints. Shin splints can sometimes be so painful that they force people to stop the activity that’s causing it.

It’s important to know that shin splints don’t happen overnight. They are the result of a cumulative stress disorder; people who do not let their bodies rest are more prone to them. Repeated stress and pounding on the bones, joints, and muscles of the lower legs stop your body from being able to heal itself.

What Causes Shin Splints?

Extreme amounts of force on the shin bone and the tissues that attach the shin bone to the muscles around it cause shin splints. This excessive force makes the muscles swell and increases the pressure felt by the bone, which results in inflammation and pain.

Stress reactions to bone fractures can also cause shin splints. Minute cracks can be created from the constant pounding. The body is great at healing itself and can heal itself if it is given time to rest. If the body doesn’t get time to rest, however, the tiny cracks can morph into a complete fracture.

What Are Your Options to Treat Shin Splints?

Shin splints are normally treated through temporarily avoiding the physical activities that are most likely causing them. In most cases, the discomfort will pass by itself in a couple of hours to a few days with rest.

On average, most people should take it easy for about two weeks so that their body has enough time to heal. You don’t have to swear off of physical activities during this time. Other physical activities that aren’t as likely to cause harm to your legs are still fine to participate in. Activities such as swimming and walking are encouraged.

To help your body heal, you should do the following:
• Elevate your legs.
• Use ice packs to reduce swelling.
• Take ibuprofen or naproxen sodium, since they’re great anti-inflammatories.
• Wear elastic compression bandages.
• Massage your shins with a foam roller.

In most cases, surgery isn’t required to correct shin splints, but if your shin splints last for several months, surgery should be considered. The procedure is called a fasciotomy.

Contact Bay Area Foot Care to Learn More

If you’re concerned about your shin splints or aren’t sure if you’re experiencing shin splints, schedule an appointment for a consultation with a podiatrist at Bay Area Foot Care. During your consultation, they will be able to tell you more about your condition and can help to alleviate any fears you might have.