Are shin splints cause for concern?

Are shin splints cause for concern?

Warm weather means getting active outdoors, including signing up for those summer fun runs, walks and races. But with more activity, the potential for injury goes up.

‘Shin splints’ are a common injury for runners or active people who may feel sharp pains on the inner side of the shinbone, also known as the tibia. But what exactly is a shin splint and when should you seek medical attention?

The medical terminology for the injury is medial tibial stress syndrome (MTSS). According to one study, published in the Journal of Athletic Training, MTSS is known for being one of the most common sports-associated lower leg injuries, and accounts for nearly 16 percent of injuries for runners.

Dr. Kara Vormittag, Family Medicine physician specializing in Sports Medicine with Advocate Medical Group in Park Ridge, Ill., says this injury should always be taken seriously.

She says some of the symptoms include: throbbing pains in the shins, pain during and following exercise and can also be sore to touch.

“This type of injury can eventually result in other problems, including stress fractures,” she says. “If someone continues to run or exercise with this injury, a person can also alter their gait mechanics, which may result in problems further up the kinetic chain – in the knees, hips and back.”

Dr. Vormittag says an MTSS injury is more associated with people who are “flat footed” and a stabilizing or more supportive shoe can be helpful.

To ease pain, Dr. Vormittag recommends ice, stretching and avoiding heavy impact, but if you are not seeing any improvement in one to two weeks, she says to seek medical evaluation.

Dr. Vormittag says pain similar to MTSS could also mean it is chronic exertional compartment syndrome, when swelling occurs within a compartment of the leg. This type of more severe injury is caused by overuse, especially during exercise, when muscle and nerves are affected, causing swelling, pain and could even affect movement in the leg.

“A sports medicine physician can help diagnose and treat these injuries to avoid the condition worsening,” she says.

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Comments

5 Comments

  1. I have awful shin splints, along with making sure to stretch before and after a run, running on slight incline on a treadmill seems to help me!

  2. Katie Renz

    I’ve never had shin splints, but sometimes I will have knee pain. A lot of time that’s a signal to me that I’m due for new shoes.

  3. Shin splints seem so simple to avoid, and simple to cure, yet are just the opposite. A great reminder and important point about not overlooking or ignoring shin splints: “This type of injury can eventually result in other problems….If someone continues to run or exercise with this injury, a person can also alter their gait mechanics, which may result in problems further up the kinetic chain – in the knees, hips and back”.

  4. Running on a treadmill tends to mean less joint pain for me overall but it isn’t as enjoyable as being outside. Thankfully I’ve never suffered from shin splints but my knees do tend to hurt me. Typically means I need to throw in a good yoga workout for some stretching.

  5. You should really look into a golf ball muscle roller it really helped to reduced the pain and swelling that i could never get rid of in my legs http://zzathletics.com/Golf-Ball-Muscle-Roller-Massager-GBMR1.htm

About the Author

Sarah Scroggins
Sarah Scroggins

Sarah Scroggins, health enews contributor, is the director of social media at Advocate Aurora Health. She has a BA and MA in Communications. When not on social media, she loves reading a good book (or audiobook), watching the latest Netflix series and teaching a college night class.