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Shin Splints, Part 1

Shin splints are an injury to the lower legs, often called the “bane of runners”. It is extremely painful and can easily become a chronic problem if left untreated. This week, we will explore common causes, symptoms, and risk factors for this nagging injury.

“Shin splints” is the common term for the medical condition known as Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome. The term refers to pain along the shin bone (tibia). Shin splints, common in runners, dancers and military recruits, often occur in athletes who have recently intensified or changed their training routines. The increased activity overworks the muscles, tendons and bone tissue.

Shin splints can be usually be treated with rest, ice and anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen or naproxen. Wearing proper footwear and modifying exercise routines can help prevent shin splints from recurring.


Shin splints are caused by repetitive stress on the shinbone and the connective tissues that attach your muscles to the bone.


Symptoms start out with a dull ache or sharp shin pain. The patient may notice tenderness, soreness or pain along the inner shinbone and mild swelling in the lower leg. Pain can occur both during and after exercising. If the spot on the shin is tender to the touch, the body is trying to heal itself from the damage, which causes inflammation. If the patient is unable to walk or run without pain, then it is time to see a physician or physical therapist to determine the best course of action to relieve pain and treat the injury. Continuous or untreated shin splints can become chronic and might progress to a stress reaction or stress fracture.

Risk factors

The following factors increase the risk of contracting shin splints:

  • Running, especially at the beginning a training program

  • Sudden increase in the duration, frequency or intensity of exercise

  • Running on uneven terrain, such as hills, or hard surfaces, such as concrete

  • Military training

  • People with flat feet or high arches


If you are experiencing pain in your lower legs or shins, don’t wait for your family physician; visit Excel Rehabilitation Services on Burnside Ave. in Gonzales, Louisiana. You will receive personalized care from an experienced, professional physical therapist!

Picture credit to: http://www.runningstats.com/shin-splints-causes-symptoms-treatments/

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