Shin splints, also known as medial tibial stress syndrome (MTSS), are a common lower leg condition characterized by pain along the front or inner edge of the shinbone (tibia). If you are not aware of the connection between your foot health and shin splints, you probably didn't realize that a podiatrist is an excellent option for treating this painful condition.
The sports injury specialists at Yavapai Foot and Ankle Center welcome patients with all kinds of lower leg injuries, including shin splints. Our goal is the same as yours—to get you off the bench and back in the game.
Our Prescott Podiatrist Will Diagnose and Assess Your Injury
The first step in treating shin splints is a thorough evaluation. We will take a detailed medical history and perform a physical examination of the lower legs to diagnose the condition. We might order imaging tests such as X-rays or MRI scans to rule out other potential causes of pain, such as stress fractures. Once we have diagnosed your shin splits and determined the likely cause, we will develop a treatment plan.
Treatment Options for Shin Splints
At Yavapai Foot and Ankle Center, we always start with the most conservative measures to relieve your pain and allow the shin splints to heal. If conservative treatment is not effective, we will suggest more aggressive forms of therapy. Options we consider for our shin splint patients include the following.
Rest and Activity Modification
One of the primary treatments for shin splints is rest. We often recommend avoiding activities that exacerbate symptoms, especially high-impact exercises or sports. We might also advise you to modify your training routines, gradually increasing intensity and mileage to reduce the risk of overuse injuries.
Custom orthotic insoles, designed to provide proper arch support and cushioning, can help distribute weight more evenly and reduce the strain on the shin muscles. We will assess your gait and foot mechanics to determine if orthotics are necessary.
Proper footwear is crucial for individuals with shin splints. Worn-out or inappropriate shoes can cause shin splints or make them worse. We can recommend shoes with adequate arch support, cushioning, and shock absorption to reduce stress on the shins.
We will design a rehabilitation program tailored to your needs that may include stretching exercises, strengthening exercises, and techniques to improve lower limb biomechanics.
Ice and Anti-Inflammatory Medications
Applying ice to the affected area can help reduce inflammation and relieve pain. Non-prescription anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen may be suggested to alleviate pain and reduce inflammation.
Bracing and Compression
In some cases, we may recommend wearing compression sleeves or wraps to reduce swelling and provide support to the lower leg muscles. Bracing with a shin splint brace or tape can help alleviate pain and provide stability during physical activity.
For persistent and severe shin splints that do not respond to conservative treatments, corticosteroid injections may be considered to reduce inflammation and pain. We administer these injections in our Prescott office.
Surgical intervention for shin splints is exceedingly rare and typically reserved for cases where conservative treatments have failed. It may involve the removal of damaged tissue or the correction of underlying anatomical issues.
It's essential for individuals experiencing shin splints to consult with a podiatrist for proper diagnosis and treatment. Early intervention and adherence to treatment recommendations are key to a successful recovery. We can also provide guidance on injury prevention strategies to help you return to your desired level of physical activity safely.
Tips for Preventing a Recurrence of Shin Splints
To prevent shin splints, we advise our patients to take several proactive measures. First, ensure you have appropriate footwear with proper arch support and cushioning for your chosen activity. Gradually increase the intensity and duration of your workouts or sports activities to avoid overuse injuries. Incorporate regular stretching exercises for your calf and shin muscles into your routine, as well as strength training to improve lower limb stability.
It's important to pay attention to your running or walking form. We can assess your gait and recommend any necessary orthotic devices or shoe modifications. Lastly, allow for sufficient rest and recovery between workouts, and if you experience any pain or discomfort in the shins, don't push through it—schedule an appointment for a follow-up exam.