What are they?
Shin splints are a
condition that involves an inflammation to the shinbone of the lower
extremity with or without involvement of the surrounding soft tissues. It is
most commonly seen in runners or athletes and can cause considerable pain
and lengthy periods of disability. It is a type of over use injury, meaning
that as one trains harder and with greater distances, the athlete has a
greater tendency to develop this condition. The primary culprit is a
combination of not stretching before exercise and over pronation of the
foot. If the cause of the problem is not treated, a shin splints condition
can lead to a rupture of an associated tendon or even a fracture of the
shinbone itself. There are different types of shin splints, which are based
upon their location in the lower extremity. The bottom line though, is that
they hurt, cause varying degrees of disability, and usually require
What causes them?
Shin splints can occur
when one participates in an exercise that places a repetitive stress on the
lower extremities. Running, impact aerobics and the various racquet sports
can all lead to the development of shin splints. Stress is placed on the
tendons in the leg and causes an abnormal torque or tension. This abnormal
force is due to the stress placed on the tendon to prevent it from tearing.
The muscle starts to pull away from the bone and also causes the lining on
the bone to be pulled away. This causes an inflammation of the bone, which
How do you treat them?
The treatment of shin
splints begins with rest, ice, compression, and elevation. All of these
should help to decrease the involved inflammation and pain. Further
treatment includes non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAID'S), such as
Ibuprofen and other prescription medications. A modification in one's
training routine or the type of shoes worn will also usually help. A device
inserted into the shoe called an orthotic, may eventually be needed to
control the patient's mechanics and improve his or her weight bearing
activities. Stretching before exercise and control of pronation is essential
to try to prevent reoccurrence.