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Spring Clinic

2616 FM 2920 RD STE N
SPRING, TX 77388-3590

Downtown Houston Clinic

6550 Fannin Street STE #2427
Houston, TX, 77030

Shin Splints

What Are Shin Splints?

Shin splints refer to pain in the front of the lower leg along the “shin bone” and slightly to the outside in the muscle group. Shin splints vary in severity from a dull ache to severe pain. Their origin can also come from a “crack” or stress fracture in the bone, or a slight strain or separation of the muscle attachment.

Shin splints are an overuse syndrome that progresses into an injury most commonly from jogging or running with improper shoe gear and hard or variable surfaces (asphalt, cement, grass, dirt). All injuries especially, ones where a fracture is suspected, need to be evaluated by a physician with standard X-rays taken or other advanced testing.

Compartment Syndrome

Compartment syndrome is another very serious condition associated with pain in the front of the lower leg. This is typically described as severe pain, with paresthesias (tingling), temporary lack of blood supply, and possible muscle damage, or even paralysis. Recommended testing is a pressure analysis of the leg muscle group.

If simple rest does not aid these symptoms, a surgical release of the pressure may be needed.

How We Treat Shin Splints

No surgery is usually required for shin splints, so we recommend one or more of several conservative shin splint treatments, such as custom molded orthotic arch supports to relieve discomfort.

Conservative Shin Splint Treatments

Weight Bearing

Stress fractures and muscle strains need protection from motion and ground forces. Keeping pressure off the area is the best way to minimize a more serious situation like separation of the fracture. Crutches, walkers, wheelchairs and strollers are also helpful healing tools.

Rest

Crutches and avoiding weight bearing on the affected leg for 1 to 3 weeks is the best care for this kind of overuse syndrome or injury, but a simple decrease in activities may relieve symptoms. Avoid bare feet and shoes without support (sandals, flip-flops, house shoes, etc.).

Stretching

Static stretching at the ankle upward and downward holding those positions for 10 seconds each for 3 sets every day will help speed recovery and minimize the chance for recurrence.

Medication

Anti-inflammatory medication can help with the chronic pain that comes with shin splints, but are not very helpful for sharp, acute pain.

Arch Support

Temporary arch supports or supportive athletic shoes will support the foot and ankle in a more inverted position. This will put less strain on the injured area and decrease the incidence of reinjury when returning to activities or exercise. Custom molded orthotics are the best solution for immediate and long-term treatment.

Physical Therapy

Examples of physical therapy that could help with shin splints include massage, cold therapy, contrast baths, stretching, ultrasound, and electric stimulation.

FAQs

How do you know if you have shin splints or not?

The best way to know if you have shin splints or not is to rule out the more serious problems that can happen in front of the lower legs, such as a tibial stress fracture or circulatory problems. Pushing on the ‘shin bone’ in front of the lower leg and then slightly to the outside where the muscle attaches is where most of the pain from shin splints originates.

What should you not do with shin splints?

The most common treatment for shin splints is rest, ice, and mild stretching. Avoid overuse and placing a lot of pressure on the area, as well as exercising without stretching.

How do I know if I have shin splints or a stress fracture?

The only way to confirm if you know if you have shin splints or a stress fracture is to have an X-ray or MRI performed with an examination.

How long do shin splints take to heal?

Shin splints can take 3 to 6 weeks to heal depending on the severity of the stress or injury that caused them.

Can being overweight cause shin splints?

Simply being overweight cannot cause shin splints, but will add to the forces that do cause shin splints. Losing weight can be part of the treatment for healing recurrent shin splints, because it will relieve excess pressure.

When should you see a doctor about shin splints?

You should see a doctor about shin splints when experiencing pain that does not get better with oral anti-inflammatories, rest, or changing to supportive shoe gear.

What exercise is good for shin splints?

Since rest is the best treatment for shin splints, there is no good exercise for them when they are painful. After the shin splints have healed, the best exercise for shin splint prevention is to alternate calf raises and foot extensions (pulling your foot upward) to both stretch and strengthen those muscle groups.

From Our Google Reviews

“Dr. Moore and his entire team have been a great support system before and after my ankle arthroscopy. I highly recommend them for anyone experiencing any foot or ankle related injuries.”

-Hazel

Don’t settle for living with the pain of shin splints. Contact Moore Ankle and Foot Specialists today for a consultation and get to healing!

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