Conditions & Treatments
IntroductionShin splints is a term to describe pain at the front or lower inside edge of the leg. The pain is most frequently caused by muscle overuse, improper form when exercising, or wearing the wrong type of athletic shoes. Most cases of shin splints resolve with rest. In rare cases, surgery may be necessary to treat complications from shin splints.
The pain occurs when the edge of the tibialis muscles pull away from the bone from repeated stress or overuse. This causes the muscles and the covering of the bone (periosteum) to become inflamed.
Overused muscles from running or jumping most commonly cause shin splints. They can occur in athletes that play sports that require quick starts and stops, such as basketball or tennis. Shin splints commonly occur in people that participate in more athletic activity than their bodies are prepared for. Shin splints can also result from wearing shoes with poor shock absorption or running on hard surfaces.
Shin splints are described as anterior or posterior, depending on the muscle groups involved. Anterior shin splints usually result from using improper form while taking strides or running downhill. Posterior shin splints are typically related to an imbalance in leg muscles or flat feet.
SymptomsShin splints cause a dull aching pain on the front or inside lower part of the leg. The pain may increase when you move your legs, climb stairs, or walk. The pain typically goes away with rest and may be worse when you first wake up in the morning. The sore area occasionally appears red and swollen.
Your doctor may recommend shoes that are appropriate for your sport or activity. If you have flat feet, it may be beneficial to use an arch support. Specialists can fabricate custom made orthotic insoles for your shoes.
Your doctor may refer you to physical therapy for pain control, rehabilitation, and training tips. Physical therapists can provide treatments to reduce your pain, such as ultrasound. Physical therapists can teach you how to properly stretch and strengthen your muscles. You will also learn correct postures and form to improve your running style and suggestions for avoiding muscle overuse.
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This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.
The iHealthSpot patient education library was written collaboratively by the iHealthSpot editorial team which includes Senior Medical Authors Dr. Mary Car-Blanchard, OTD/OTR/L and Valerie K. Clark, and the following editorial advisors: Steve Meadows, MD, Ernie F. Soto, DDS, Ronald J. Glatzer, MD, Jonathan Rosenberg, MD, Christopher M. Nolte, MD, David Applebaum, MD, Jonathan M. Tarrash, MD, and Paula Soto, RN/BSN. This content complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information. The library commenced development on September 1, 2005 with the latest update/addition on April 13th, 2016. For information on iHealthSpot’s other services including medical website design, visit www.iHealthSpot.com.