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Understanding Shin Splints

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If you have ever experienced lower leg pain after exercise or physical exertion, you're not alone. The cause is often a condition called shin splints.

Shin splints affect over 3 million Americans every year and are most commonly caused by overusing leg muscles to the point that they become irritated and swollen from micro tears in muscle tissue. Other causes include stress fractures, or tiny breaks in the lower leg bones. Overpronation or "flat feet" where the foot's arch collapses when stepping, and weakness in the stabilizing muscles of the hips or core.

Treating Shin Splints

In most cases the symptoms of shin splints will subside in few days to a week and lab tests and imaging are only necessary if the pain is severe or last more than a couple of weeks.

To relieve the pain of shin splints, the best treatment is rest, ice, and over the counter pain relievers. When the pain first appears, ice your shin for 20-30 minutes every 3 to 4 hours to reduce pain and swelling. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), like ibuprofen or aspirin, can help with pain and swelling.

Rare cases shin splints are caused by a more severe stress fracture that may require surgery and physical therapy. If you're concerned about your leg pain, don't hesitate to give us a call.


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