Shin splints is usually brought about by exercise. It is common among individuals who engage in a lot of running or other activities involving repeated placement of weight on the legs such as in basketball or tennis.
The condition is not usually serious but can prevent the individual from exercising and even worsens if ignored. It is vital not to run through the pain. Generally, the condition can be managed at home and expected to settle in just a few weeks.
The chief indication of shin splints is discomfort in the shin bones that radiates down the front part of the lower legs.
The pain is likely to:
- Start right after exercise is started
- Gradually improve while at rest – oftentimes the pain might subside during exercise but eventually becomes continuous even while at rest
- Affect both shins
- Be dull and achy at the start but becomes increasingly sharp or severe and stops during exercise
- Be felt over a wide region of the shin
Oftentimes, there might also be some swelling.
What are the causes?
It is still vague on what precisely causes shin splints. The condition is usually triggered by running or placing repetitive weight on the legs.
It is believed that this leads to swelling of the tissue bordering the shin bone. Various factors that increases the possibility of developing shin splints include:
- Abrupt changes in the activity level – starting a new exercise regimen or increasing the pace or distance when running
- Running on uneven or hard surfaces
- Being overweight
- Using poorly fitting or worn-out footwear that could not provide enough cushioning and support to the feet
- Having flat feet or feet that overpronates
- Having taut calf muscles, tight Achilles tendon or weak ankles
Management of shin splints
Shin splints can be generally managed at home. These measures can help alleviate the pain and allow healing of the legs:
- Adequate rest – stop any activity that causes the shin splints for at least 2-3 weeks
- Application of ice – place an ice pack against the shins for up to 10 minutes every few hours during the initial few days to alleviate the swelling and pain
- Pain control – over-the-counter pain medications can be given to lessen the pain if needed
- Low impact activities
The individual can resume normal activities over a few weeks once the pain has settled. Activity should be increased gradually.