What exactly are shin splints? The diagnosis can be a mixed one, as shin splints is actually the general name given to pain at the front of the lower leg. Therefore shin splints are actually not a diagnosis per se, but rather a description of a range of symptoms, which could have a variety of causes.
These symptoms include:
- Lower leg pain
- Tenderness on the inside of the shin
- Bumps on the bone
- Pain when the toes or foot are turned downwards
Causes can vary, but include inflammation of the sheath surrounding the tibia.
The first part of treatment is to rest and apply ice. This will reduce both pain and swelling. Other protocols include wearing shock absorbing insoles in shoes, using anti-inflammatory medication (e.g. ibuprofen) and consulting a sports injury clinic for treatment and rehabilitation.
Other measures that can help are taping the ankle for support - wearing tape through the day allows the shin to rest by taking the pressure off the muscle attachments.
A sports injury specialist will also be able to analyze your running style to look for issues like over pronation or other biomechanical problems of the foot, and help you to maintain fitness with non weight-bearing exercises.