Shin splints are a condition that refers to the pain, stiffness, and swelling in the shins. Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome is the other term for it.
Shin splints are the most common in athletes and runners, but everyone can be at risk.
Anyone who suffers from it can attest that it can be excruciating and frustrating.
Shin splints can develop during and after performing an activity that involves the feet. It may affect either or both legs, which can hinder your ability to perform your daily activities at your best. Therefore, this can be a frustrating issue for people who want to remain active, such as athletes.
It is not clear what causes shin splints. Doctors believe it is due to tendons and muscles on the shinbone becoming inflamed when they are tugged on the bone. This tugging typically occurs because of overuse, stress, or excessive force to these tendons and muscles.
Therefore, it is not surprising that shin splints are common in athletes and high-impact sports enthusiasts. They participate in running-based, multi-directional activities involving actions, such as stopping and changing directions that strain the knees, ankles, and ligaments.
Non-athletes can get this condition from strenuous exercising or pushing themselves beyond their limits. This issue is also common among those people with flat feet or those who use the wrong footwear for a particular activity.
Shin splints usually start with muscle pain in the shin. You might feel tender and sore along your inner bone, and along with that, you might see a mild swelling in your leg. Others may feel numbness at the feet, but this symptom is uncommon.
If you stop doing the activity that causes it, the pain might stop temporarily, but it may eventually return and develop into a more severe condition.
Will Shin Splints Go Away on Their Own?
There are two remedies you can do on your own: RICE and low-impact stretching. Before you follow these suggestions, it is advisable to seek your podiatrist’s advice first.
Mild shin splints may be treated if you follow the RICE method, which stands for:
Take a break from any activities that cause you pain, swelling, discomfort, or both.
Apply ice packs on your shins for up to 20 minutes, multiple times a day for several days. Do not directly apply the ice on it but use a cloth or a towel to wrap the ice. Apply ice until the pain goes away.
Use a calf compression sleeve to alleviate inflammation.
Elevate your injured leg with a pillow or chair. Raise your leg above heart level.
There are low-impact stretches that can alleviate your pain, but consult your podiatrist first before you can do any of the following exercises. Some exercises might not be advisable for you, especially if you are suffering from other conditions.
Calf raises is a simple stretching exercise where you only have to raise your heels from the floor and hold for up to 20 seconds before you lower your heels down.
You may use a step stool to perform calf raises. Place the balls of your feet on the stool while the back part of your feet is dangling.
Foam Rolling is another stretch you can try. But you will need a foam roller to do the exercise.
The starting position is that your knees and hands are on the floor (tabletop position) with the foam roller under your legs. Roll the foam roller using the strength of your knees back and forth, toward your face and towards the back. The foam roller should roll along the legs.
When to Seek Help From a Podiatrist?
Even though mild shin splints can go away on their own with proper care and treatment, you should still consult a podiatrist for advice. It is always best to follow your podiatrist’s recommendation regarding the treatment and exercises you can do at home for faster healing.
Another reason you should seek an expert’s advice is that other more severe ailments have the same symptoms like shin splints. Examples are Compartment Syndrome and stress fractures, which need immediate help. Seeking an expert’s advice will allow you to get a proper diagnosis, eliminating any dangerous assumptions.
For more questions on shin splints and other foot injuries and ailments, contact a foot and ankle center near you like The Footwork Clinic now!