Shin splints is a common problem seen in active patients and in runners in particular. This disease process is the result of shearing and overuse of a muscle called the tibialis anterior. The function of this muscle is to move the foot and ankle into an extended position. If overused or stressed, this muscle will create symptoms where it originates on the leg. Because of the function of the muscle, patients often experience pain with exercise, especially when walking on uneven surfaces or hills.
Shin splints is often diagnosed by obtaining a careful history and performing a physical exam. Although it is a clinical diagnosis, x-rays or other imaging studies may be performed to rule out other pathologies.
Fortunately, there are multiple treatments for shin splints. “RICE” therapy, which is the combination of rest, ice, compression, and elevation, should be employed as first line treatment and often works immediately to relieve symptoms. Patients may also be instructed to avoid walking or running on hills. Custom orthotics which place the foot into a more anatomic position help to relieve stresses across the muscle involved in shin splints. Physical therapy may also help to rehab and strengthen the muscle.
One of our goals at Advanced Podiatry is to allow our patients to remain active and continue to exercise without worrying about pain. Sports medicine is a large component of our practice, so if you have any athletic injury or if something is preventing you from staying active comfortably, do not hessite to make an appointment!