Shin splints

You often hear this term used in sports environments. This is because it’s a condition that usually develops as a result of exercise, and is especially common among runners and dancers.

The most common symptoms of shin splints are tenderness and pain that spreads down the front of the lower leg. Most often, the pain occurs during exercise and stops when you rest, though some people have pain when they’re resting, too.  The condition can be accompanied by swelling around the painful area.

The main treatment options for shin splints are:

  • Take a rest from the activity that causes the shin splints. The condition will need a few weeks to clear up, though stress fractures can take up to 12 weeks to heal properly.
  • Use OTC (over-the-counter) painkillers, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen. Be careful, though, as these can just hide the symptoms while the condition itself remains.
  • Use ice packs to help relieve pain. Don’t apply it directly onto your skin – wrap it in a towel, or something similar. Apply it for 10 - 20 minutes at a time.
  • Make sure your trainers or sports shoes give your feet enough support and cushioning. Orthotic insoles for your shoes may also help to improve the way you run.
  • Change your running style - it may help to take quicker, smaller steps.
  • Visit a physiotherapist for a course of massage, coupled with stretching exercises.

Although surgery isn’t often required to treat shin splints, severe cases can require an operation called a fasciotomy to relieve the pressure on the muscles in the lower leg.

If you would like more information on this condition and its treatment, please call us.