Shin splints1 usually refer to a condition where you suffer from a pain along the inside or the front of the shin. It is called an overuse injury and is quite common among sportspersons or athletes.
Is Heat Good For Shin Splints?
After the initial period of treating the shin splints with ice or cold packs, applying heat or heating pads can be beneficial in providing relief from shin splints.
It is advisable to apply ice or a cold compress to an injury that is acute. Hence, when the shin splints is in an acute stage, or has just newly started, it is recommended to use ice packs to constrict the blood flow. It also helps in temporarily numbing your pain. after this initial treatment, you can try applying heat or heating pads in order to relax the muscles, and also release the tension in the muscle.
An excessive pressure or force on the shin bone or the tendons that attach muscle to the shin bone is responsible for causing shin splints. This excessive force can be a result of exercise that is performed for very long and with a high intensity. As a result, the muscle swells and pressurize the shin bone, giving rise to inflammation and pain.
Shin splints also occur as a result of a stress reaction to tiny bone fractures in the leg.
Who Is At A Risk For Shin Splints?
There are many risk factors associated with shin splints. These include, but are not limited to-
- An anatomical abnormality known as a flat foot syndrome2
- Weakened muscles of the buttocks or thighs
- Physical training performed with wrong techniques
- Running on uneven, slanting or hard surfaces, like downhill or concrete
- Using non-fitting shoes for doing the workout or exercise
- Playing sports with an abrupt stop and start
- Putting the already tired muscles and tendons through a stress
- Professions like dancing, gymnastics etc.
How To Diagnose Shin Splints?3
A physical examination can usually diagnose a shin splint. A confirmation can be obtained by taking history of your physical activities and the physician may ask you about the techniques used to follow those physical activities. Sometimes, diagnostic tests and procedures may be required. These may include imaging tests like X-rays, CT scan and MRI.
Treatment Of Shin Splints4
- Shin splints usually heal on their own. the shin splints often go away within days of taking proper rest. However, try out a few treatment methods if the problem doesn’t go away.
- Give the body some time to heal itself by taking enough rest. Shin splints often disappear simply by taking proper rest
- Ice massage or a cold compress can give relief from pain and swelling
- Perform an ice massage for a period of 2-3 days, done every 3-4 hours till the pain and discomfort is gone
- Shock- absorbent orthotics can be used if you have a flat foot
- They can be custom made these days, if the ones available over the counters do not fit you
- the inflammation and pain can be reduced with the help of anti-inflammatory medicines
- However, beware of the side effects and use them sparingly
- Use only with proper recommendation of a specialist
- Consult a physiotherapist if the problem keeps coming back
- A physiotherapist can tailor exercises and treatment according to your need
Shin splints are overuse injuries of the leg. They usually heal on their own, without any treatment. However, if they do not go and cause more, persisting pain and discomfort, it is better to get them treated. Shin splints are curable as well as preventable. By following simple steps, you can get rid of shin splints in no time. Applying heat may help shin splints in chronic stage, after the initial treatment of applying ice packs or cold compress is carried on. Applying heat to acute shin splints is usually not advised.