With the US Open soon underway, one of the conditions tennis players must be aware of is shin splints. Shin splints are common injuries amongst athletes, especially those who run or play basketball, tennis, and soccer. Shin splints presents as pain in the lower leg below the knee either on the front or back of the leg that typically occurs with activity. Shin splints actually refers to inflammation of muscles below the knee.
Certain factors pose the risk of getting shin splints including running, a sharp increase in workout intensity, inappropriate shoewear, weak Achilles tendon and ankle muscles, and the biomechanics of the foot that causes the foot to roll inwards toward the body. The diagnosis of shin splints is typically made in office through a physical exam and history without any imaging modalities. Treatment should initially follow the RICE protocol. This involves rest, icing the painful area for 20 minutes multiple times a day, using bandage or wraps to compress the painful area, and elevating the leg. Over the counter NSAIDs may also be used to help decrease pain. Once pain subsides, shoewear and orthotics should be evaluated. Shoewear should provide support and be appropriate for the affected individual’s activity. As far as orthoses, your physician can order orthoses for you to modify your foot function to reduce stress on the lower leg. Often even over the counter arch supports can provide some relief. When returning to exercise, activity should be increased gradually to avoid reinjury. To avoid future shin spints, it may also be helpful to try certain stretches and strengthening exercises. These include strengthening the calf muscles through activities like toe raises and leg presses. Most importantly, when pain begins activity should be stopped.
You don’t have to suffer! The physicians at Atlantic Foot and Ankle Associates want you to continue doing what you love… pain free! With offices conveniently located in Palm Coast, Daytona Beach, Port Orange, and Orange City, our physicians will get you healthy and back on your feet again!