If you’ve increased the level of activity you’ve been doing lately and find that you now have pain across your tibia, it is likely that you’ve developed shin splints. The sudden increase in activity is characteristic of this condition, as the bones and tissues involved will become inflamed. This condition is more common in runners and exercisers who attempt to “step it up a level” and increase their regimen.
What are shin splints?
“Shin splints” is a common name for medial tibial stress syndrome, which is an inflammation of the tissues surrounding the bones of the lower leg. Pain is usually felt along the ridge of the tibia where muscles attach to the bones. This condition is generally stimulated by the overuse of the muscles and can develop quite quickly.
How do I know if I have this condition?
Patients with this condition generally suffer from a narrow range of symptoms, making it easier to diagnose than many other foot and ankle problems. The pain associated with shin splints can vary from a dull throbbing to sharp, stabbing pains in the lower leg. Due to the inflammation of the bones and tissues, many patients experience swelling that is tender to the touch around the affected areas. These symptoms often occur during activity and at rest.
How is this condition treated?
This condition is usually mild in its appearance and rarely requires surgery. Typically, patients will see a reduction in symptoms with rest, icing, and anti-inflammatory medications like aspirin and ibuprofen. In conjunction with these treatments, Dr. Trent Timson may prescribe specific exercises and footwear designed to increase the strength and flexibility needed for your lifestyle. Orthotics and corrective shoes aid in the realignment of bones and tissues.
The recovery period for this condition may take up to 6 months depending on the severity of the problem. Patients often find that they cannot resume their normal routine during recovery as it is counterproductive to the healing process. Be sure to exercise at a lower level of intensity and gradually increase the level of activity from there, cross training with low impact activities like swimming and cycling can help to alleviate the stress on the shin.
To reduce the amount of time it takes to recover, schedule an appointment online with Dr. Timson. Our professional staff is trained in the treatment and prevention of foot and ankle pain and will be able to diagnose the best course of action for your condition. Contact our McPherson office at 620-241-3313 with any questions you have.
How did I get shin splints?
This condition often develops as patients change their level of physical activity. While a gradual increase in workout conditions is useful for increasing strength and endurance, it is the sudden shifts in these exercises that strains the lower leg and stimulates the irritation of the tibia.
Some changes in activity that cause problems are:
- Frequency – Increasing the number of days a week patients exercise can have a dramatic effect on the pressure sustained by the feet and ankles.
- Duration – Traveling longer distances or for increased periods of time on a daily basis continuously damages the leg throughout the activity and does not allow for relaxation of the tissues during a period of rest.
- Intensity – The level of exertion put forth by people in their activities directly influences the irritation caused to the tibial and surrounding tissues. Patients often experience troubles here when running against inclines or different surfaces like asphalt.
There are a few risk factors for the development of this condition that should be known. People with stress fractures, flat feet, and high arches are more likely to develop this condition as the uneven distribution of pressure on the foot causes a cascading effect of increased irritation along the surface of the shin. This can also be simulated by the use of improper and worn-out shoes.