Runners, basketball players, and dancers repeatedly stress the muscles and connective tissue that attach to the shinbone. This stress causes inflammation of the soft tissue (muscles and tendons), leading to pain, or what you may know as shin splints.
They aren’t a serious sports injury, but if you continue your usual workout routine with shin splints, the repeated strain may lead to stress fractures.
At Douglas J. Abeles MD & Associates in Castro Valley, California, our sports medicine expert Dr. Abeles understands how hard it is to stop your usual level of activity when you have a sports injury. But getting the right medical attention for your shin splints from an expert in sports medicine may speed up your recovery and prevent other problems that require more downtime.
Here, we want to talk about shin splints and why you need sports medicine for treatment.
About your shin splints
Shin splints are an overuse injury. Though runners and athletes who play high-impact sports are prone to shin splints, you can develop the injury after any type of physical activity. It’s not uncommon to develop shin splints when starting a new workout after a long break.
Shin splints, also called medial tibial stress syndrome, cause inflammation of the muscles, tendons, and bone tissue around your shinbone. With shin splints, you may feel mild to severe pain along the edge of the bone before, during, or after your workout.
You might not consider shin splints a serious sports injury, but you shouldn’t work through the pain. Repeated stress on the bones from the connective tissue may lead to stress fractures, tiny breaks in the bone.
Treatment for shin splints
Taking a break from the activity that caused your shin splints is the primary treatment. Instead of running and jumping, try low-impact physical activity like swimming or biking.
We recommend you refrain from your high-impact sport until your shin splint pain goes away, which can take several weeks. This may sound excessive for a minor injury, but if your shin splints turn into stress fractures, your recovery may take months instead of weeks and include a walking boot.
You can take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for pain and apply ice packs to your shins to decrease inflammation. We also recommend stretching exercises to reduce shin splint discomfort.
You should wear supportive shoes or orthotics to reduce stress on the shin during the healing process.
Preventing shin splints
In addition to treating your shin splints, we provide guidance on how to prevent this overuse injury in the future.
We can help you find the right athletic footwear, provide a pre-workout stretching and warmup routine, and offer cross-training suggestions to reduce overuse and improve muscle balance.
We also recommend that when resuming your regular workout routine, go slow. Too much activity too soon causes shin splints. When getting back into your sport, increase the length, intensity, and frequency of your workout gradually.
Don’t ignore your shin splints. Our sports medicine experts can help heal your injury and prevent future problems. Contact our office in Castro Valley, California, today to schedule an appointment.