Your body is all connected. Bones are held together by ligaments, muscles attach to bones with tendons, and everything affects the other parts, whether it’s obvious or not. Sometimes this connectivity means issues in the feet or ankles can cause pain and weakness further up the legs. Shin splints is one uncomfortable example. Fortunately, the right care can restore your lower limbs and alleviate your discomfort.
The Source of the Aching
Shin splints are a problem with inflammation, swelling, and pain in the tissues along the shin bone. This may include the muscles, tendons, and even bone tissue. The condition develops from overuse. The tissues become overworked and irritated, causing pain. You end up with tenderness and soreness in the front of your shins. You may even have swelling in that area. The discomfort typically increases the more you’re active, and decreases when you rest.
This is especially common among athletes, who absorb a lot of trauma to their lower limbs while training. Constant, repetitive activities can take a toll on the feet and ankles. Often the problem arises from changes in your routines, too, like suddenly increasing the intensity or frequency of your work-outs. Biomechanical problems like flat feet and stiff arches change the way your feet absorb pressure, which can strain the shins and lead to overuse. Worn out or badly-fitted footwear can create a similar effect and contribute to the problem as well.
What You Can Do about It
Because shin splints are overuse injuries, they do not heal on their own. They can actually worsen and make your regular sports and athletic activities so painful that it’s hard to continue them. Fortunately, you can treat shin problems conservatively—often by addressing the issues in the feet and ankles. Dr. Sanjay Patel and our staff at Family Foot Care & Surgery, L.L.C. will examine your lower limbs to diagnose your condition. They may request diagnostic images or additional tests to rule out problems like stress fractures, tendonitis, or compartment syndrome. Once we have your discomfort identified, we can help you manage and eliminate the problem.
You need to alleviate the irritation and pain in the tissues first to return to full strength. Take a break from all your hard-impact activities to rest your lower limbs until the pain is gone. Ice your shins regularly to help decrease the inflammation and swelling. You may need to wrap the painful areas in compression bandages or wear special socks to help with this.
Stretch your Achilles and shin muscles frequently, too, to relax tightened tissues. Any biomechanical problems will also have to be addressed. You may need to replace your footwear with more supportive shoes that stabilize your arch. Orthotics can also help with this. Once your shins have stopped hurting, you can slowly return to your activities. You’ll need to start out easy and work your way back to normal intensity, so you can gradually recondition your feet and legs for the strain.
If you’re an active person but find it hard to participate in your regular activities because of shin pain, you may have shin splints. You don’t have to resign yourself to living with the discomfort or give up on your sports. You just need to take the time and steps to recover. Let Dr. Sanjay Patel and our Family Foot Care & Surgery, L.L.C. staff help you. Just call one of our two offices—(203) 876-7736 for the Milford office, or (203) 288-4055 for the one in Hamden—or use the website to make an appointment with us.