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Shin Splint Treatment

If you have shins splints, some products may help reduce pain while you heal

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Updated September 04, 2013

Shin splints -- a generalized pain along the front of the lower leg over the tibia (shin bone) -- is a fairly common injury among runners or sprint athletes, but also occurs in beginning exercisers and even walkers. Shin splints are considered a cumulative stress injury because they often occur after repeated stress or jarring of the bones, muscles and joints without proper conditioning or recovery between workouts.

Some of the most common causes of shin splints are preventable. By making some minor changes in your training routine, you can prevent or reduce your risk of developing shin splints.

If you do develop shin splints, by beginning home treatment immediately, you can limit the damage of the injury and heal faster. The key is knowing what action to take at the first sign of shin splints.

Shin Splints - Home Treatments and Products

The following home treatment tips may help you reduce the pain of shin splints and help you return to sports faster. Before you use these treatments, consult your own doctor or physical therapist to ensure that it's part of your treatment plan.

  • Rest.
    If you have pain along the shins during activity, stop immediately and let the injury heal. Avoid exercises that aggravate the problem and let your muscles rest until you can safely return to exercise after an injury.

  • Ice and Compression.
    Cold therapy is the best immediate treatment for acute injuries because it reduces swelling and pain. It constricts blood vessels and limits internal bleeding at the injury site. In the early stages of treating shin splints (the first 24 to 48 hours), you will be icing your lower leg frequently. You can apply ice (wrapped in a thin towel) to the affected area for 10 to 15 minutes at a time several times a day. To make this process more convenient, consider purchasing a cold therapy wrap designed specifically for hands-free icing.

    Compare prices on Cold Therapy Wraps

  • Calf and Shin Compression Wraps.
    Shin and calf compression wraps provide both compression and support for the lower leg which may help reduce pain and help the muscle heal faster.

    Compare prices on Shin Support Wraps

  • Use Over-the-counter Pain Medications.
    Most soft-tissue injuries like shin splints are painful because of the swelling and inflammation that occurs after an injury. Pain relief is often the main reason that people turn to over-the-counter (OTC) anti-inflammatory medications that work by reducing the inflammation that occurs as a result of the injury.

    Compare prices on Over the Counter Pain Medication

  • Heat Therapy Wraps.
    After the pain, swelling and inflammation of shin splints subsides (usually after 48 to 72 hours), it's helpful to apply heat to the injured area. A combination of heat and deep tissue massage on the muscles and tendons along the shin for a few minutes before and after you exercise can help you heal faster and get back to your training.

    Also see: Should I Ice or Heat My Injury?

    Compare prices on Heat Therapy Wraps

  • Cushioned Insoles.
    Adding extra cushioning or a shock-absorbing insole to your shoes can help reduce the stress of high impact activities. Cushioning helps reduce the shock that gets transferred from the ground to your lower leg, particularly when running on hard surfaces for long periods of time.

    Compare prices on Cushioned Insoles

  • Orthotics.
    Orthotics are custom designed insoles to help correct biomechanical problems such as over-pronation or supination. Shoe inserts are usually custom-fitted by a podiatrist or physical therapist to match your foot exactly. Some over-the-counter inserts also, such as Superfeet, that act a bit like an orthotic, but are available at a much lower cost.

    Compare prices on Superfeet

    Compare prices on Over the Counter Orthotics

Sources:

Carr K, Sevetson E, Aukerman D. Clinical inquiries. How can you help athletes prevent and treat shin splints? Journal of Family Practice. 2008;57:406-408.

Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, Shin Splints Patient Information, Dec. 30, 2008.

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