Sometimes, certain sports injuries may be hard to avoid. Shin splints or shin soreness are some of the common terms used to refer to pain in the front-lower parts of one’s leg. Some common causes include the patient receiving a direct blow to the shin bone (also known as tibia), stress fracture or compartment syndrome, which is the swelling of the anterior or posterior tibia muscles that are located muscles within their containing sheath. We will discuss the causes of shin splints and treatment methods for combating shin splints and shin soreness in this post.
Understanding the Causes of Shin Splints and Shin Soreness
- Compartment syndrome
Muscles are enclosed by an inelastic containing sheath. These muscles can swell due to overuse or past injuries. Each time you push these muscles they may swell even more, creating extra pressure in the sheath. If you have compartment syndrome pain, you will only feel these pains after running or walking long enough. More often than not, it eases quickly when you stop, and the muscle swelling reduces.
- Strain, tear or fracture
A muscle tear or strain causes a pain that can be felt immediately whenever you stretch or contract the affected muscle. Stress fractures, on the other hand, require specialist diagnosis because the tibial tendons are located very close to the shinbone. Hence, it’s pretty difficult to distinguish between a tibial stress fracture and a posterior tibial tendon strain.
- Biomechanical inefficiencies
One of the major causes of biomechanical inefficiency and contributor to shin splints is flat feet. Flat feet can lead to over-pronation, where the ankle and foot continue to roll inward, in excess. When this happens, the tibia twists and over stretches the muscles of the lower leg.
Shin splints are common in sports that involve lots running. The sudden change of directions and sudden shock force of repeated landings can cause shin splints. If the tendons and muscles become overloaded and fatigued, they will lose their natural ability to absorb shock forces that could cause damage.
Basic Shin Splints and Shin Soreness Treatment Methods
Do you know how soft tissue injuries are treated? Well, the techniques used in treating shin splints is not very different. You can apply the R.I.C.E.R. regime – Rice, Ice, Compression, Elevate and Referral. The last one requires you to engage an appropriate professional for an accurate diagnosis. Below is a basic flow you can use while treating shin splints and shin soreness:
- Stop what you are doing
- Apply ice (wrapped in a damp towel) for 10 minutes at a go every 2 hours
- Minimize the swelling to the tissues by applying a compression bandage
- If compartment syndrome is diagnosed, avoid compression as it may increase the pressure and cause further damage
- Limit blood flow and prevent use of the muscles by elevate your legs
- Get ample rest to allow the damaged tissues to heal
- Refer to an appropriate professional who can provide an accurate diagnosis
For best possible chance of full recovery, you should implement the R.I.C.E.R. regime for at least the first 48 to 72 hours. The next phase of treatment usually involves techniques used in physical therapy as well as the application of heat and massage.