Many athletes struggle with it. It’s not uncommon to hear runners talk about their sore lower legs. After being out on a several-mile jog, they may even need to sit down and ice their shins to deal with the discomfort. They aren’t the only ones, of course—other athletes also find their lower legs aching after an intense practice, especially if they have to do plenty of stops and starts. Though you may see it in many different people, this pain, typically called shin splints, is never supposed to be normal.
The Limiting Discomfort
Shin splints are a common overuse injury for runners and other athletes. The muscles, ligaments, tendons, and even bone tissues become irritated and inflamed. Generally poor conditioning is the culprit, though worn shoes and preexisting conditions can contribute to the problem. Sudden increases in your activities, whether in intensity or duration, stress the lower legs. Hill running—both up and down—is particularly notorious for inducing shin problems. Lots of sudden starts and stops can also strain the tissues. When your shoes are too worn or not supportive enough, or you have a condition like flatfoot, your shins are forced to work harder. However it starts, the muscles become overloaded and swell, making it increasingly painful to continue your activities.
As an overuse injury, the problem doesn’t get better on its own—often it gets worse. The area along your shins burns. Sometimes the discomfort is sharp; other times it just throbs. The lower legs can even be tender to the touch. Typically the problem decreases with some rest and flares up again when you are active. With some intentional care, however, the condition can be relieved so you can return to doing what you love.
When you come in for lower leg pain when exercising, Dr. Noah Levine will evaluate your feet and legs to determine the exact cause. If a preexisting condition led to the development of shin splints, it will need to be addressed for your legs to heal. They may request diagnostic images as well, to rule out other possible causes like stress fractures, tendinitis, or compartment syndrome. Once the source has been identified, you can begin treatment.
You will need to rest your legs. As an overuse injury, the problem will not improve if you continue to strain the tissues. Avoid high-impact movements like running. Instead, low-impact sports, like swimming or biking, allow you to continue exercising without putting the pressure on your lower legs. We may have you ice the area, to help reduce swelling and irritation in the affected tissues, and prescribe anti-inflammatory medications to relieve the pain. Compressing the shins with socks or wrap bandages can also discourage swelling. You may need to change your shoes or invest in orthotics to better support and cushion your feet so your legs absorb shock and strain better. Once your legs no longer ache and the experts say it is safe, you can slowly return to your activities and condition your shins to handle the stress.
If you’re experiencing aching or burning in your shins when you’re active, you may have developed shin splints. This condition can be easily treated using noninvasive methods, relieving your discomfort and returning you to your activities pain-free. If you don’t address the problem, however, it tends to worsen. Don’t ever ignore pain in your feet, ankles, or lower legs. Instead, contact Absolute Foot Care Specialists in Las Vegas for an appointment or more information. Visit the website contact page or call (702) 839-2010 to reach us.