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Updated:

March 31, 2024

What Are Shin Splints?

shin splint

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, which can be a key indicator of shin splint symptoms. 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, highlighting the importance of differentiating between shin splint or stress fracture. Or, it could be a slight strain or separation of the muscle attachment, leading to a search for shin splint relief.

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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. This evaluation helps in understanding what is a shin splint and its severity.

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. This falls under shin splints treated strategies that aim for effective shin splint recovery.

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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, providing essential shin splint relief.

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.), as part of effective prevent shin splints technique.

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. These are effective shin splint stretches that support shin splint recovery.

Medication

Anti-inflammatory medication can help with the chronic shin pain that comes with shin splints, but are not very helpful for sharp, acute pain. This is a part of shin splint treatment aimed at managing shin splint 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 pain. Custom molded orthotics are the best solution for immediate and long-term treatment, serving as a shin splint remedy.

Physical Therapy

Examples of physical therapy that could help with shin splints include shin splint massage, cold therapy, contrast baths, stretching, ultrasound, and electric stimulation. These interventions can significantly aid shin splint recovery.

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Insurance Coverage for Shin Splints

Modern Foot & Ankle is in-network a wide range of insurance providers, ensuring that many patients can receive the necessary treatments without undue financial burden. We encourage patients to visit our insurance page to see the plans we accept.

We will work with your insurance provider and navigate the complexities of insurance policies to ensure that you have access to the care you need for shin splints, stress fractures, and related conditions. Our team is also available to assist with any questions or concerns regarding insurance eligibility and coverage specifics.

Why Choose Us

Selecting the right care provider for shin splints is a decision that impacts your recovery and overall health. At Modern Foot and Ankle, we stand out for our commitment to excellence, comprehensive care, and patient-focused approach. Here are five reasons why choosing us for your shin splint care is a decision you can feel confident about:

Expertise in Foot and Ankle Care  

Our team consists of specialists with extensive experience in diagnosing and treating a wide range of foot and ankle conditions, including shin splints, medial tibial stress syndrome, and stress fractures. Our expertise ensures that you receive a correct shin splints diagnosed and effective treatment plan tailored to your specific needs.

Cutting-Edge Treatment Options  

We stay at the forefront of medical advancements to offer our patients the latest treatment options. From shock-absorbing insoles to custom orthotics and innovative physical therapy techniques, we provide solutions that enhance recovery and prevent the recurrence of shin splints.

Personalized Patient Care  

Understanding that each patient's situation is unique, we prioritize personalized care plans. Our approach involves a thorough assessment of your condition, lifestyle, and goals to ensure that the treatment plan addresses your specific concerns and promotes optimal recovery.

State-of-the-Art Facilities  

Our clinics are equipped with the latest diagnostic and treatment technologies. This enables us to perform accurate assessments, including the diagnose shin splints and related conditions, and offer the most effective treatments in a comfortable and welcoming environment.

Preventive Care and Education  

We believe in the power of prevention and patient education. Alongside treating the immediate symptoms of shin splints, we focus on educating our patients about exercise routines, stretching techniques, and lifestyle adjustments that can help prevent future issues with the lower leg muscles, tendons, and bone tissue.

In Summary

Shin splints, known medically as medial tibial stress syndrome, are a common affliction affecting individuals who engage in activities that put repetitive stress on the lower legs. This article has delved into the nuances of shin splints, including their symptoms—such as mild swelling and shin pain along the shin bone—causes, and effective treatment strategies.

Emphasizing the significance of diagnosis, we highlighted the importance of distinguishing shin splints from conditions like stress fractures through medical imaging.

Treatment strategies for shin splints, as discussed, focus on rest, ice, appropriate stretches, and the use of supportive footwear or custom orthotics to alleviate pain and facilitate recovery from our services.

Understanding shin splints, from the initial diagnosis to comprehensive treatment and prevention strategies, empowers individuals to manage their health proactively. With the right care and preventive measures, such as incorporating shock-absorbing insoles into one's exercise routine and addressing underlying issues like flat feet, those affected can achieve relief from the pain of shin splints and enjoy an active, healthy lifestyle.

The information on our website is intended for general informational and educational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice. For any health-related concerns, we strongly recommend consulting with a healthcare professional. Please note that any reliance on the information found on our site is solely at your own risk. For more details, please see our Medical Disclaimer.

FAQs

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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, answering the question of where is shin splint pain.

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. These are crucial for shin splint prevention.

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

The only way to confirm if you have shin splints or a stress fracture is to have an X-ray or MRI performed with an examination. This diagnostic step is essential in understanding shin splint or stress fracture conditions.

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. This duration is crucial for planning shin splint recovery time.

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, thus serving as a shin splint remedy.

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, to ensure proper shin splint treatment.

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, known as shin splint exercises.

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