Shin Splints

Shin Splints Treatment in Kansas City, MO

What are Shin Splints?

Shin splints are one of the most common injuries suffered by runners, dancers, and athletes and are almost exclusively the result of overuse.

Shin splints refer to pain in the tibia or shin bone, the prominent bone at the front of your leg that’s extremely sensitive to impact or collision. The more active you are and the more stress you put on your legs, the more likely it is that you’ll have shin splints.

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What Causes Shin Splints?

Shin splints happen due to your lower leg muscles and bones pulling and tugging where they insert into the tibia or shin bone. Because there are insertion points throughout your tibia, most people feel the effects in multiple areas of the shin.

The result is swelling, inflammation, and pain in the affected parts of the shin bone. While most cases of shin splints are minor, they can turn into a tibial stress fracture or break if you leave it untreated.

Shin Splint Signs and Symptoms

The first and most apparent sign of shin splints is the searing pain you feel throughout your shin bone. You may notice tenderness and soreness on the inner side of your tibia, as well as swelling in the lower part of your leg.

The pain caused by shin splints can range from mild to severe and will usually worsen with activity.

Who is Most at Risk for Getting Shin Splints?

While runners and dancers are at a higher risk of shin splints, they aren’t the only ones who are likely to suffer them.

  • Flat-footed individuals – If you are flat-footed, have high arches, or have very rigid arches, you are more at risk for shin splints because of the extra stress you put on your tibia
  • Military members – Military members do a ton of walking, running, and working out, which puts them at higher risk
  • Those with osteoporosis – Osteoporosis and osteopenia cause your bones to weaken, putting you at higher risk
    People who don’t wear the right shoes – If you do many walking or exercising and don’t have supportive footwear, shin splints are almost inevitable

Treatment for Shin Splints

Shin splints are avoidable and painful, but they aren’t usually considered major injuries. However, if you leave them untreated, they can turn into fractures or breaks of the tibia, so staying on top of them is important. Here are the treatment options for shin splints.

Nonsurgical treatment for shin splints include:

  • Rest – The first thing you should do is take a break and give your tibia time to heal
  • Ice – Applying ice to your shins for 15 to 20 minutes at least four times a day is often enough to take care of your shin splints
  • Compression – Using an elastic compression sock over the shins may help prevent more swelling
  • Pain relievers – If the pain is bad enough, it might be necessary to take ibuprofen, Tylenol, or a similar over-the-counter medication
  • Flexibility exercises – Stretching can help your shins feel better
  • Supportive shoes – When you go about your daily life, wearing shoes with good cushioning will help lower the stress on your shins
  • Orthotics – Orthotics may help people who have flat feet or who have problems with shin splints often. Shoe inserts can help get your foot and ankle in the right place and keep them stable. This takes the pressure off your lower leg. You can have orthotics made just for your foot, or you can buy them over-the-counter
  • Physical therapy – Depending on the severity of your injury and the activity level you want to return to, physical therapy might also be necessary to recover from shin splints fully
  • Returning to exercise – Most of the time, shin splints get better with rest and the easy treatments listed above. You should be pain-free for at least two weeks before you start working out again. Keep in mind that when you start exercising again, you need to do it with less intensity. You shouldn’t work out as often or for as long as you did before

If the nonsurgical solutions above don’t help, surgery may be an option for the more severe cases. Very few people with shin splints need surgery. But it is not clear how well surgery works.

If you have pain or swelling in your legs and aren’t sure what’s causing it, give us a call at Ortho of KC. While it might be something as minor as shin splints, your condition could also be more serious. Either way, Ortho of KC is here to assist you in your recovery!

How Do I Prevent Shin Splints?

While shin splints are commonplace in today’s active world, they are mostly preventable. By wearing supportive shoes, maintaining a healthy weight, stretching and warming up before exercising, and not overdoing it, you can steer clear of painful shin splints.

More things you can do to help prevent shin splints include:

  • Slowly build fitness level – Gradually add to the length, effort, and number of times you work out
  • Cross train – Switch between jogging and sports with less impact, like swimming or riding a bicycle
  • Barefoot running – Many people say that running barefoot has helped them relieve shin splints. It can spread the stress of an impact over more muscles so that no one area is overworked. A barefoot running program should be started slowly, just like any other big change in your exercise routine. Start with short lengths so your muscles and feet can get used to the change

Shin Splint Care in Kansas City

If you have any of the symptoms mentioned above, please contact Orthopedic Health of Kansas City and make an appointment with one of our Kansas City sports medicine specialists. They will perform a complete examination, diagnosing and ultimately treating any problem.

From simple physical therapy to complicated surgery, you’re in good hands with Orthopedic Health of Kansas City and we will do what it takes to get you active again.