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Shin Splints (cont.)

Shin Splints Treatment

Self-Care at Home

When you first begin to notice discomfort or pain in the area, you can treat yourself with rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE). Over-the-counter medications may also be used to reduce discomfort and pain.

Rest will allow the tissues to heal themselves by preventing any further stress to the affected area. Ice should be applied no longer than 20 minutes. The ice may be put in a plastic bag or wrapped in a towel. Commercial ice packs are not recommended because they are usually too cold.

Compression and elevation will help prevent any swelling of the affected tissues.

There are two types of over-the-counter medication that may help with the pain and swelling of MTSS. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) will help with the pain, and a nonsteroidal antiinflammatory such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen will help with the pain and battle the inflammatory response. Caution should be taken when using these drugs, and the dosage should not exceed the recommended dosage.

Medical Treatment

Once the severity and cause of MTSS is determined, a course of corrective and rehabilitative actions can be started.

  • Use of various therapy techniques by qualified medical personnel may be recommended. Therapists may use machines and/or manual therapies to reduce pain and increase circulation to the area to promote healing.
  • Maintenance of fitness levels via modification of activity may be prescribed.
    • Substitution of activities that do not aggravate MTSS: Bicycling, elliptical trainers, step machines, swimming, or ski machines eliminate impact and allow maintenance and improvement of fitness levels.
    • Employ corrective prophylactic measures.
      • Wear new shoes, or replace the insoles of your current shoes.
      • Athletic shoes lose the elastic properties of the soles through usage and age. A good rule of thumb is to replace your shoes every six months, or more often if there is heavier usage. The use of purchased insoles can increase energy absorption and add support to the foot.
      • Corrective and off-the-shelf orthotics may also improve the biomechanics of the foot.

Practice muscle strengthening and flexibility.

  • Exercises may be recommended that increase the strength and stability of the affected area and correct muscles that may not be balanced.
  • Exercises to increase flexibility will maintain or improve the length of a muscle. Flexibility helps to make a stronger muscle that is less likely to be injured.
  • Take medication to help reduce inflammation.
  • Follow up with a health-care provider until symptoms have improved.

In cases where changes were seen in the initial scans or X-rays, follow-up scans or X-rays may be performed. A plan for a gradual return to play should be started once the pain is reduced and muscle strength and flexibility are restored.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/12/2014

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