Shin splints are a very common condition characterized by pain in the lower leg, similar to a torn meniscus that prompts aching in the knees. It occurs specifically along the shin bone, the hardened tissue scientifically termed tibia, which is the big, rigid, elongated structure towards the front of the lower leg. Also Read: Torn Meniscus: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment
A frequently reported complaint by sportspersons, athletes and dancers, shin splints are medically referred to as Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome (MTSS). People engaging in intense physical activity often develop this injury owing to extreme strain on the tibia and the tissue assemblies in the vicinity of the lower leg.
Although shin splints do not cause irreparable damage to bones, muscles and joints, they still give rise to excruciating aching in the legs, ankles and feet, affecting normal movement and hampering daily productivity.
Hence, taking ample rest, particularly for vigorously training sports professionals and applying ice compress on the affected region of the lower legs is recommended to improve the agonizing situation. It is also advised to seek proper treatment from healthcare experts and physical therapists, to relieve leg pain and regain muscle strength.
Causes Of Shin Splints
In a majority of cases, shin splints are a result of overtraining and arduous bodily movement. Naturally, it is vastly seen in fitness trainers, sports enthusiasts, dance performance artistes, besides those preparing for competitive events and enrolling in the army, military.
Shin splints happen when massive quantities of force are applied directly on the shinbone and the neighbouring tissues, muscles linked to it. This surplus pressure invariably results in inflammation in the leg muscles and shin bone, triggering undue amounts of pain between the knee and the ankle, along the calf region.
Nevertheless, in rare instances, minor bone fractures also lead to shin splints, which can worsen if stress is consistently applied to the wounded area. These splits in the bone framework usually tend to resolve by themselves, when all workout routines are ceased and the system is allowed to relax.
Certain factors make a person more inclined to obtaining shin splints, such as having flat feet with barely any arching, wearing uncomfortable shoes while training and performing gruelling workouts without proper warm-up or cool-down exercises. Also Read: 5 Fantastic Cooling Down Exercises To Soothe Your Muscles After A High Intensity Workout
Apart from incessant leg pain, persons with shin splints display numerous distinct indications such as:
Dull, throbbing sensation in the lower leg
Aches and pulling in the legs while exercising
Prominent muscle pain and swelling
Severe soreness and discomfort on both sides of the shin bone
The doctor first enquires about the complete medical history and frequency of exercise carried out by the patient, as well as the type of training and workout performed by them on a regular basis.
Then a routine external physical exam is conducted, to determine any swollen regions in the lower leg.
Following this, a visual scan of the leg, by means of an X-ray is also taken, to probe for the possibility of the shin splints being triggered due to underlying bone fractures.
Mostly shin splints are caused only due to high levels of muscular strain while engaging in tedious physical activities. After confirming the diagnosis, the physician, therefore, suggests that the patient take a break from all forms of exhausting exercises and training, to rest the body.
The doctor also prescribes some pain killers, to alleviate the tenderness and discomfort in the bones and muscles of the lower leg. At times, physical therapy sessions are also advised to be taken, to gradually improve blood circulation in the lower legs and regain flexibility of movement.
Moreover, the medical practitioner also recommends some home remedies of elevating the legs, wearing compression bands and massaging the painful lower leg region with ice packs or a cold compress, to provide significant pain relief.
Only in circumstances where the shin splints deteriorate slight bone fractures to a further extent or extend for long periods of time, the doctor performs a procedure known as fasciotomy, a surgery to rectify the tissues in the calf muscles and lower leg. This ensures the normal functioning of the shin bone and surrounding muscles, with improved movement and tensile strength.