What Should I Do If I Have Shin Splints?

January 11th, 2019 Becki Andrus

At first, you may notice it but you don’t really give it much thought. It is that pain that you feel in the front portion of your lower leg, and it might not last for a long period of time. It could even be a little tender when you touch the area where you first noticed the pain, but you still might convince yourself that it is a muscle strain. and is not a major concern.

However, what you are feeling may also be a shin splint, and even though it can be treated very simply if that is causing you pain, it can also become a larger problem if you attempt to ignore it for any length of time. This is especially true if you engage in regular exercise or activities such as running, or dancing, and are repeating the same movement over and over on a frequent basis.

Before we proceed any further with symptoms and causes of shin splints, it is important to establish the exact definition of a shin splint, so that you have an accurate understanding of what someone who is dealing with this injury might be contending with.

What Is A Shin Splint?

Let’s start with clarifying that your shin is located in the lower leg, between the knee and ankle. It is a large bone that can be found in the front area of your lower leg, and the shin bone is also referred to as the tibia.

A shin splint can be described as inflammation in the tendons, muscles, or tissue around your tibia, and this issue is often related to active usage of this area in your body due to physical activity. While this can encompass various exercises, numerous cases of shin splints are caused specifically by running.

It is particularly common if the running occurs repeatedly on hard surfaces. This continual impact can eventually create swelling on the muscles which can also cause inflammation and pain as pressure rises in the area surrounding the bone (tissues and muscles).

If exercise is leading to a shin splint problem, the symptoms that you may experience could easily include pain both during your activity and after you have completed it. This issue can also take place due to sudden changes in your exercise regimen – especially if it includes making your particular workout longer or more intense.

Sometimes flat feet can be the culprit, as the impact of each step leads to a collapse in your arch. Not wearing proper footwear that comfortably conforms to your feet can also result if a shin split problem.

In some cases, shin splints can be the result of small bone fractures. These also occur due to the continual impact that creates tiny cracks within the bones of your leg. If you have experienced a fracture in your tibia, you might be dealing with pain and will notice swelling or bruising in that area of your lower leg.

When Should I See A Doctor

While you can certainly consult with a physician if you are in pain, or have any questions, you can also try simply resting your leg that contains the pain. This can be beneficial, and the impact increases if repetitive motion from exercise or other activities has created the problem. Ice, compression, and the use of ibuprofen or aspirin might also reduce any pain and swelling. However, this in no way implies that you should hesitate to visit a doctor if you are contending with pain in your shin.

What A Doctor Will Do

Once you have decided to visit a physician, he or she will discuss the situation with you which will include asking you a number of questions. Once the doctor understands your symptoms and has a working knowledge of your medical history, he or she will examine this area of your lower leg, and give you a diagnosis. It is possible that Imaging will be used to make sure that shin splints are indeed the issue. Because there are other problems that can be causing you pain in your tibia. This includes inflammation, tendonitis or an actual stress fracture.

If you have tendonitis, this is created by having inflammation in your tendons. If you have a stress fracture, the small cracks in your tibia can be discovered after you have undergone an MRI.

If you have shin splints, your treatment could still involve rest. This is a logical plan since overuse is very often the reason shin splints have occurred in the first place. If your unwavering commitment to exercise has helped create the problem, your doctor might suggest different activities that will not include the same repetitive motion that created the issue. This will allow you to stay at least somewhat active well you are simultaneously working toward improving your shin splint injury.

Your physician may also recommend ice, compression, and anti-inflammatories if you have not already used any of these potential remedies toward easing pain.

If flat feet or shoe issues have contributed to shin splints, you will likely be provided with orthotics. These shoe inserts can be tailored to properly fit your foot, which will supply stability as you walk. They will also decrease the stress that has previously been taking place with your tibia.

In most cases, the forms of treatment that were just mentioned will eventually help you return to exercising, It is important that you workout wisely and not be excessive in how much you are taxing the shin until you have fully recovered. While surgery is unlikely, there is the possibility that it will need to occur. That will be determined by your physician if the usual treatments have not solved your shin problem.

At Orthopedic Associates We Can Help

If you have any questions or concerns about shin splints, do not hesitate to contact us at Orthopedic Associates. Our orthopedics are highly experienced in treating a wide range of knee and leg conditions, including:

  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament Tear (ACL Tear)
  • Avascular Necrosis (Osteonecrosis) of the Knee
  • Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)
  • Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)
  • Fractures of the Tibial Spine
  • Goosefoot (Pes Anserine) Bursitis of the Knee
  • Hamstring Muscle Injuries
  • Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS)
  • Lateral Collateral Ligament (LCL) Injury
  • Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) Injury
  • Meniscus Tear
  • Osgood-Schlatter Disease
  • Osteoarthritis of the Knee
  • Osteochondritis Dissecans of the Knee
  • Osteomyelitis
  • Patella Fracture (Broken Knee Cap)
  • Patella Tendon Rupture
  • Patellar Tendonitis (Jumper’s Knee)
  • Patellar Tracking Disorder
  • Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (Runner’s Knee)
  • Prepatellar Bursitis (Kneecap Bursitis)
  • Quadriceps Tendon Tear
  • Septic Arthritis of the Knee
  • Shin Splints (Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome)
  • Supracondylar Femoral Fracture
  • Tibial Fractures
  • Tibial Plateau Fracture
  • Torn Posterior Cruciate Ligament (PCL)

Take an important step toward feeling better by visiting us at either of our two Orthopedic Associates locations or request an appointment today.


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