Running Injuries: Shin Splints and Stress Fractures
Foot and ankle injuries are relatively common among active people of all ages. The demands made on our feet and lower limbs can lead to a range of injuries, including sprained ankles, shin splints and stress fractures.
Shin splints often affect athletes who ramp up their exercise without gradually conditioning their bodies. They involve the muscles and tendons of the lower leg. Running on hard surfaces and athletic shoes that don’t provide sufficient cushioning, as well as inadequate conditioning, can all contribute to shin splint development.
A stress fracture is a small crack in the bone that occurs when the muscles that support the bone become fatigued and can no longer absorb the shock of an activity. It is a common injury among long distance runners and athletes who quickly escalate the intensity of their exercise. It can occur in any bone but it most commonly affects the foot (metatarsal) or shin (tibia) bones.
Symptoms of Shin Splints and Stress Fractures
Symptoms include tenderness around the shinbone. The pain usually develops gradually with exercise and subsides with rest. Most cases of shin splints can be treated with rest, ice and NSAIDs and a switch to a low-impact exercise such as biking or swimming until the shin splints heal.
Treatment of Shin Splints and Stress Fractures
Most running injuries can be relieved by following these treatment strategies:
- Take it easy. If you keep running, your injury may get worse.
- Apply ice packs to reduce pain, inflammation, and swelling.
- Wrap the affected area with tape and use splints and supports to control swelling and stabilize the affected area.
- To reduce pain and tension of the affected area, gently stretch and massage the injured area.
- Take over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen or anti-inflammatory medications.
If pain and discomfort continues, see your health care provider. You may need more advanced treatment to resolve your running injury. Don’t try to push through pain. If you notice discomfort, take a break from running. If the pain continues, seek care from your health care provider.
We want to be your trusted Orthopaedic Specialists of New Orleans. If you are experiencing pain from a running injury, please call our office at (504) 897-7877 and a member of our caring staff will be happy to help you.
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