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Are shin splints stress fractures?

Shin splints are common amongst runners and are a result of inflammation around the muscles, tendons and soft tissues around your shin bone (the tibia).

Stress fractures are small cracks in the bone

Are shin splints bone or muscle?

Medial tibial stress syndrome (MTSS) is caused by repetitive traction and inflammation of the posterior tibial muscles, which attach to the posterior medial tibial border.  These muscles can be felt if you run your fingers down the inside edge of your shin.

Bone stress injuries range from a bone stress reaction to a complete bone fracture. They are associated with the repetitive impact that occurs with regular running – especially when increasing mileage, introducing speed work or even a ‘HIIT’ class. This all adds up where impact and stress on the body are concerned.

How shin splints feel.

Shin splints can present with the following symptoms;

  • A dull ache in the front part of the lower leg
  • Pain in the lower leg during exercise
  • Pain on either side of the shin bone
  • Muscle pain down the outside of the shin or behind the shin bone
  • Pain along the inner part of the lower leg
  • Tenderness or soreness along the inner part of the lower leg
  • Swelling in the lower leg (usually very mild, may feel a bit puffy)
  • In some cases, numbness and weakness in the feet

Are shin splints fractures?

Severe or untreated shins splints can develop into stress fractures. In some cases it is the mechanisms that are triggering the shin splints, such as prolonged running on hard surfaces or inappropriate footwear, will cause the stress fractures.

See your doctor if your pain and symptoms don’t respond to treatment or if you’re experiencing any of the following symptoms:

  • severe pain in your shin after a fall or accident
  • a shin that feels hot to touch
  • a shin that’s visibly swollen or bruised
  • pain in your shins even when you’re resting
  • your shins have a very sharp pain in the bone when pressed

How shin splints heal.

  •  Rest. Stop the activity that is triggering the shin splints, let the inflammation settle and let your body heal
  •  Ice to ease pain and swelling. Do it for 20-30 minutes every 3 to 4 hours for 2 to 3 days, or until the pain is gone.
  •  Insoles. Custom made orthotics or off-the-shelf insoles can help your reduce the symptoms if you have issues with the mechanics of your foot such ha collapsed or high arches.

How to treat shin splints

 

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