Shin splints is the term generally used to describe pain located around the front area of the shine bone. Shin splints is alternatively known as periostitis and is a cumulative stress injury meaning it will occur and worsen when repeated stress is applied along the tibia bone. Shin splints are usually a result of a high impact exercise involving lots of running or jumping and is characterized by its slow healing process.
You may have shin splints due to CSS, Compartment Syndrome. When warming up your muscle soreness should slowly decrease, if you have CSS the pain will worsen during the warm up. Another indicator of CSS is a tingling sensation in the foot. This proves that a nerve in the foot is being compressed. If this is the case, seek immediate medical attention it is unlikely that the methods described here will be of any use until you are in latter stages of your recovery, it’s likely you will need an operation.
For immediate treatment use the R.I.C.E method.
- Rest: This acts as protection to prevent the muscle from being re-injured. It also saves energy that will be used in the healing of the injured muscle.
- Ice: Use ice packs, ice bags or even frozen vegetables to ice the injured area. It will provide pain release and will reduce swelling by inhibiting blood flow to the region. However it is important that you do not ice your shin for too long as it can damage the skin and cause ice burn.
- Compression: Another form of pain relief, it restricts the amount of swelling that can occur. The less swelling the quicker the healing time. Again be careful not to abuse the muscle(s) by wrapping it too tightly if it does feel too tight re-wrap.
- Elevation: Elevate the injury above the level of the heart, for leg injuries it is often best to be lying down with a couple of pillows underneath the injured leg.
Try complimenting the R.I.C.E method with regular massages. Massaging helps as it speeds up the formation of scar tissue and helps reduce the chances of a re-injury while reducing the duration of the injury.
Using the R.I.C.E method over a 48 hour period should help the pain and the healing process, if you have seen no progress then depending on the severity of the injury you should either go to see a Doctor or the emergency department within a local hospital.
After seeing the doctor you are likely to be prescribed with N.S.A.I.D ( non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs) . If you have not yet been to see the doctor then take anti-inflammatory and pain killer drugs preferable combined (i.e. Ibuprofen). If your leg is continually deforming and you are struggling to hold form i.e. “foot bending away from pointing frontward” consider special footwear or orthotics. An othotic is a specialized mechanic device that will help support your injured joint/limb.
Also recommended is low-stress rehabilitation exercises such as cycling or swimming , these will not stress the area surrounding the frontal tibia. Walking backwards has been known to be a pain reliever and a therapeutic exercise. If you are open minded it may be worth trying acupuncture which many claim to have helped them a lot though there is no scientific evidence to support these claims.