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Charleston, IL 61920


Shin Splints

What are shin splints?

The term "shin splints" describes a painful condition of the shin region associated with overuse, and is characterized by separation of leg muscles from bony attachments. Shin splint injuries occur either in the front (anterior) or the back (posterior) of the lower leg. If left untreated, or if the causes of the injury are not addressed, shin splints can intensify and, in some cases, lead to more serious conditions.

How do I know if the pain in my legs is caused by shin splints?

Shin splint pain starts gradually and usually occurs during and after some kind of physical activity. In its mild stages, the pain is reduced at rest, but gets worse with an increase in weight-bearing activity. The pain doesn't radiate, but can be described as deep seated, dull, and throbbing. However, other conditions (including the more serious stress fractures) can have similar characteristics. The best advice is to ask your healthcare professional; he or she can make a definitive diagnosis and start working with you on restoring your health.

I don't take part in any running or jogging programs, so what I have can't be shin splints - right?

Wrong. You don't need to be a track star, or even a "weekend warrior," to develop shin splints. It is true that a person who runs or jogs is a more likely candidate (especially if he/she has recently undertaken a dramatic mileage increase, or is just starting out and runs on hills); but just doing a lot of walking on hard surfaces (concrete, metal, wood) or having feet which are posturally unstable can be enough to trigger a case of shin splints.

How can my healthcare professional help me to get better?

Your healthcare professional will give you a thorough examination to determine the cause and extent of your problem. He or she will want to know how long you've been hurting, where it hurts, and what may have aggravated the condition. The severity of shin splint pain generally depends on how long you have been affected. Your healthcare professional will be able to rule out those few lower leg conditions which mimic shin splints - stress fractures, for example. Depending on the diagnosis of your condition, he/she has treatment programs to do the following:

  1. Relieve pain.
  2. Restore function.
  3. Prevent reinjury.

Many healthcare professionals prescribe a comprehensive plan of rest, joint mobilization, therapeutic exercise, and correction of postural distortions through the use of spinal/ pelvic stabilizers (foot orthotics). The program your doctor recommends will, of course, depend upon your specific case.

How can stabilizers help my shin splints?

Stabilizers help to optimize your foot posture, which helps to reduce irritation to the affected area. Your doctor may advise you to wear special stabilizers which have built-in pads of shock-absorbing material. These pads help reduce stress and provide needed comfort.

What kind of exercise should I be doing?

Your healthcare professional can best determine what rehabilitative exercise would be suitable for your condition. Gradual muscle stretching and strengthening often help shin splint conditions heal faster. One method your healthcare professional may prescribe is the Thera-Ciser™ Therapeutic Exercise System. Thera-Ciser is easy to use in the privacy of your home, sets up in seconds, and helps you regain ankle strength and movement without pain.

Ask Dr. Schuster if orthotics or the Thera-Ciser exercise system would help your shin splint injury.

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