Many athletes struggle with various aches and pains, and lower limb discomfort is very common. Whether on the road, the court, or the ski hill, dealing with lower leg pain can be a familiar experience at any age. Being active and pushing your body to its limits can result in sore muscles and minor injuries. A period of rest usually gives your body time to heal and for tissues to repair themselves, but when discomfort continues, it should be addressed. It could be a sign of damage or an injury that needs to be treated. This is often the case with shin splints, a lower leg injury that causes nagging pain and can prevent you from being involved in the activities you love to do.
Sidelined by Pain
During most sports, the stress that your body has to endure is significant. Unless there is discomfort, we aren’t aware of how hard each joint, muscle, ligament and tendon has to work to keep us mobile. Every run, sprint, jump, landing, start and stop puts our body to the test. While athletes are familiar with all kinds of aches and pains, shin splints can cause a chronic pain that is beyond the typical post-game soreness.
If you have been sidelined by pain from shin splints, there are several reasons this may have happened. The medical term for it—medial tibial stress syndrome—indicates the root of the problem: stress. Generally due to overuse, the discomfort comes from stress put on the muscles, tendons, and bone tissues in the front of the lower leg. The repeated strain causes inflammation and pain during exercise.
The most common culprits that contribute to this problem include sudden changes in activity, increasing the frequency or intensity of an activity too quickly, hill running, activities with sudden starts and stops, poor footwear, and pre-existing foot conditions. In these situations, your shins are forced to work harder and can “rebel” under the repeated pressure.
Solving the Problem
Unfortunately this type of overuse injury generally does not go away on its own without changes that alleviate the pressure on your shins—in fact, it usually gets worse. The good news is that you do not have to be sidelined with leg pain indefinitely. We have many effective treatment options that are conservative in nature and can get you active once again, free of pain.
The first step in solving the problem lies with you. Pay attention to the symptoms and seek treatment from the start to prevent the problem from getting worse. You may experience minor discomfort, burning, throbbing pain and tenderness. Symptoms often flare up during activity and then subside during periods of rest. To allow your legs to heal, you need intentional treatment that targets the problem. With most patients, the RICE method is very effective at jumpstarting the healing process. This involves rest, ice, compression and elevation. We can also support these treatments with anti-inflammatory medications and footwear modifications that will help your leg heal. Physical therapy to stretch the shin muscles is also helpful, as well as investing in custom orthotics. These provide extra support for your feet and in turn relieve stress on your shins. Orthotics also provide extra cushioning which help absorb shock during movement or impact.
If you’re experiencing aching or burning in your shins, you may have developed shin splints—we have the answers for your pain! Dr. David Guhl and Amy Miller-Guhl will consider your needs and provide the right treatment plan to keep you on your feet. Remember, the condition may worsen if you don’t address the problem. So contact Waukesha Foot Specialists in Wisconsin for an appointment or more information. Visit our contact page or call our office at (262) 544-0700.