Shin Splints

What is shin splints? What causes shin splints?

The term “shin splints” refers to an overuse injury affecting the shin bone/ tibia. It is often associated with vigorous sports or physical activity. Runners are especially prone to shin splints. Over- exercise, flat feet, bad running form, high impact activities and use of wrong type of running shoes can also lead to shin splints.

What are the symptoms of shin splints?

Common symptoms associated with shin splints are pain along the sides of the tibia and mild swelling.

How is shin splints diagnosed?

A thorough analysis of the symptoms, medical history and physical examination can hint shin splints. However additional tests are carried out to rule out other shin problems such as stress fracture, tendinits and chronic exertional compartment syndrome. Cracks in the tibia cause stress fracture. Inflammation in the tendons that connect muscles to bones is the root cause of tenditis. Abnormal increase in the muscle pressure levels leads to chronic exertional compartment syndrome. The symptoms of these shin problems would also be similar to that of shin splints. Thus additional tests are needed to confirm shin splints.

How is shin splints treated?

Below mentioned self care measures can heal shin splints. Consult a doctor if these self care measures don't ease your pain.

  • Rest your body until the shin splints are completely cured.
  • Icing the shin can relieve pain and swelling.
  • Use anti-inflammatory pain killers.
  • Flexibility exercises/ physical therapy can strengthen the shins.
  • Orthotics is recommended for those having flat feet.
  • Continue low impact activities while you recover.

Surgical treatment is used for very rare cases of shin splints that do not respond to the above mentioned non-surgical treatments.

What are the preventive measures for shin splints?

Follow the tips to prevent shin splints.

  • Use the right shoes. Consult a podiatrist before choosing special orthotics to correct flat fleet.
  • Seek advice from health professionals to improve your running form.
  • Avoid exercising on hard surfaces.
  • Stop work out once you feel pain in your shins.
  • Warm up before workout.
  • Slow down the intensity of your training.
  • It is claimed that bare foot running reduces the risk for shin splints.