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Physical work can be stressful. If you play sports or undertake physical labor in your day to day life, you know the struggle of making it through the day without any soreness, pain or fatigue. Folks across the world face physical injuries and stresses on a daily basis, but any refuse to get treatments in the hopes that they’ll recover over time.
It is crucial to prioritize your health by focusing on your signs and symptoms and getting the appropriate treatment. Prolonging consultations and treatments can cause more harm than good, which is why you should be aware of your body’s limits. A common problem faced by many across the world is “Shin Splint”.
What exactly are shin splints?
According to the Health Line, shin splint involve pain along the front of the lower leg and shin bone, usually concentrated between the knee and ankle. The condition is also known as medial tibial stress syndrome (MTSS).
Shin splint commonly affect people who participate in mild to extensive physical activity. You’re most likely at risk of shin splints if you take part in heavy physical activities or stop-start sports like tennis, soccer, racquetball, and basketball.
Shin splint involve a cumulative stress on the body. Repetitive strain and stress on your bones, muscles, and joints in the lower leg stops the body from its ability to naturally heal and repair itself. The pain induced by shin splints can also be severe enough to force individuals to stop their daily activities.
What causes shin splint?
The pain that comes with shin splints occurs because of extensive amounts of pressure on the shin bone and the tissues surrounding it and the muscles around it. The excessive force results in swelling of the muscle which puts excess pressure against on bone, causing pain and inflammation.
Furthermore, shin splints can be a consequence of stress effects due to bone fractures. The consistent force can result in small cracks appearing in the bones of the leg. The cracks are able to naturally heal if given time to rest. That said, if the body is not given appropriate time to rest, the minute cracks can cause a complete fracture or a stress fracture.
Who is at risk for shin splint?
Different movements and physical activities can make you more susceptible to shin splints. The risk factors include:
- Muscle weakness in the thighs or buttocks
- Absence of flexibility
- Anatomical conditions like flat foot syndrome
- Taking part in stop-start sports soccer, racquetball, basketball, tennis, and downhill skiing
- Poor training regimens
- Wearing improper or worn-out shoes during runs and workouts
- Running on an inclined or rough surface
- Downhill sprints
- Running on hard floors like concrete
You’re more likely to suffer from shin splints if your leg muscles and tendons are fatigued. According to an article by the Cheshire Fitness Zone, women, athletes, military personnel, and dancers are all more likely to get shin splints.
Symptoms of shin splint
You can expect the following symptoms if you have shin splints:
- Dull aches in the front of the lower leg
- Mild swelling in the lower leg
- Pain in the internal part of the lower leg
- Tenderness or soreness in the lower leg
- Foot numbness and weakness
- Pain along the sides of the shin bone
- Pain during exercise
- Muscle pain
You should get a consult at Pillars of Wellness if your shin splints don’t improve with regular treatment methods or if you’re facing any of the following symptoms:
- A warm feeling in the shin
- Intense pain in your shin because of a fall or accident
- A swollen shin
- Pain in your shins even while resting
How are shin splint diagnosed?
Your doctor will diagnose shin splints by conducting a physical exam and taking a history of the type, frequency, and intensity of physical activities you take part in. You may be asked to get imaging scans and X-rays if there’s suspicion of any bone fractures or conditions other than shin splint.
Treating shin splint
Shin splint typically need rest from certain physical activities to give your legs time to heal and repair themselves. The discomfort will gradually improve fully in a few hours or days with rest and reduced physical activity.
The appropriate amount of rest is usually around two weeks. During this rest, you can take part in sports or activities that are less prone to causing more harm to your legs. These activities include swims or walks. You can also simultaneously use the following treatment plans at home:
- Keep your legs elevated
- Take OTC painkillers and anti-inflammatory
- Ice your legs to minimize the swelling
- Use foam rollers to massage your legs
- Warm up before exercises
- Wear elastic compression bandages
Check with Pillars of Wellness before getting back to your daily physical activities to make sure you’re back to full strength.
Surgery is a last resort for treating shin splints. That said, if your shins splints result in intense pain and symptoms prolonged over several months, your doctor can advise a surgery known as a fasciotomy. In the surgery, your doctor will make small incisions in the fascia surrounding your calf muscles to relieve some of the pain.
How physical therapy can help prevent and treat shin splint
A great way to avoid shin splints is to strengthen the calf and hip muscles like your hip abductors. Muscle strengthening can be done using athletic taping and specific exercise routines that focus on improving tissue strength. A physiotherapist can recommend the right routines based on your physical activities and current health condition.
Nancy developed a horrible case of shin splints during her two and a half years of running. She kept running through the pain, changing her routines and footwear, but nothing seemed to improve her condition. Finally, she met with a physical therapist who recommended some daily exercises that proved effective in treating her pain and discomfort.
With patience and hard work, Nancy was able to get back on her feet pain-free! If you want to feel the same pain relief and motivation, contact Pillars of Wellness now to get your consult today!