Treating Shin Splints – Advanced Evidence-Based Treatment at Ravenswood Chiropractic in Chicago
Shin splints, or aching pain in the shin area, can be caused by various activities, such as running or playing sports. Treatments can vary depending on the severity of the injury and may include Radial Shockwave Therapy, Laser Therapy, Rest, and Ice to reduce inflammation and pain and heal your injury. In addition, Physical Therapy and Custom Orthotics may be added to your treatment plan to address the underlying cause of your shin splints and help you fully recover. Learn more about how to treat shin splints at Ravenswood Chiropractic in Chicago.
Do I have Shin Splints?
Shin splints can range from mild aches and pains to sharp pains in the lower leg, usually on the inside of the shin. The pain typically only occurs during or after physical activity. If you experience these symptoms, then it’s likely that you have shin splints. Other symptoms include inflammation, redness, tenderness, swelling of the lower leg, burning pain when pressed on, and flaring up of the pain with any more physical activity. If you have intense or intense pain, consult your chiropractic physician or another qualified healthcare provider for an accurate diagnosis to get the most effective treatment plan and get back to your sport as soon as possible.
Shin Splints Treatment Options
Radial Shockwave Therapy
Radial Shockwave Therapy is an advanced, non-invasive, and effective treatment option for shin splints. In fact, at Ravenswood Chiropractic in Chicago, it is often our first treatment option for severe and persistent shin splints, cases that don’t respond to conservative treatment, or athletes that need to get back to the game as soon as possible. It uses sound waves to promote the formation of new blood vessels and connective tissue to help heal the area. It also disrupts pain signals allowing you to be more comfortable, and it reduces inflammation by stimulating localized mast cell activity. These processes work together to help to accelerate healing.
Class IV Laser
Our Class IV Laser treatment is safe and non-invasive, providing effective relief for shin pain and injury. Our patients have seen significant improvement after just a few treatments. We combine laser therapy with treatments like Radial Shockwave Therapy, Physical Therapy, and Custom Orthotics to reduce inflammation and swelling, strengthen muscles, and improve overall function. We can help you with a treatment plan to avoid steroid injections and surgery and safely return to the activities you enjoy. With over 20 years of experience treating sports injuries, our patients trust us to provide the care and advice they need.
At Ravenswood Chiropractic in Chicago, we Incorporate physical therapy into your treatment plan for shin splints to help strengthen the muscles and tendons from becoming overly tight or weak. Treatment usually starts with rest and icing the tender areas of the shin, followed by stretching and strengthening exercises suitable for your activity level. Most people recover fully with this conservative treatment, but physical therapy may be necessary for more moderate cases. Physical therapy exercises also improve joint flexibility and range of motion, often affected by shin splints. In addition, these exercises can help stretch and strengthen the lower leg muscles to prevent further injury and reduce pain and discomfort associated with shin splints.
Custom Foot Orthotics
A significant contributor to shin splints is overpronation or arch flattening. The muscles in your leg that are primarily involved are the anterior and posterior muscles. These muscles help support your arch. When your arch flattens, these muscles can become overworked and start to break down, causing pain and inflammation. Properly designed custom foot orthotics (the kind that changes how your foot functions) are often the most effective shin splint treatment if the cause is falling arches. The right orthotic will address the pain of shin splints and prevent the re-occurrence of the problem over the long term. In addition, custom orthotics cradle your arch –thereby relieving the stress of the muscles that have been damaged. A combination of foot orthotics (to address the cause of your shin splints) and therapies such as Radial Shockwave Therapy (to decrease inflammation) is the most effective strategy. Our Chiropractic physician will provide custom orthotics best suited to your specific condition and needs.
Home Care For Shin Splints
In addition to the care outlined above, there are several home care recommendations that you can use to help reduce the pain and inflammation caused by your shin splints. Treatment of shin splints usually begins by modifying activities that could be causing pain. This might include reducing the intensity, frequency, or duration of exercise and wearing appropriate footwear for exercising. These include applying a cold pack or ice several times daily and avoiding activities that aggravate the injury, such as running and stretching exercises to relieve tendon stiffness.
What is Shin Splints?
Tibialis Anterior / Tibialis Posterior tendonitis or “shin splints” generally refers to pain anywhere along the shinbone (tibia) between the knee and the ankle. It occurs due to damage and inflammation of the tendons and muscles that run up the shin. Shin splints are commonly seen in runners, dancers, and other athletes. Shin splints are caused by overloading the muscles and tendons around the shinbone (tibia), so athletes that just increased their routine are at increased risk.
In our office, we typically see many patients coming in with Shin Splints in the spring because they have taken a break from running over the winter and then started up again where they left off last fall. However, it can also be caused by strenuous sporting activities or those just starting a fitness program.
Symptoms of Shin Splints
Symptoms may include pain along the front inside edge of your shin. You may also have pain in the inner back side of your leg. The area may be tender to the touch and, in some cases, can become red and swollen. You may be able to reproduce the pain of shin splints by pointing your foot and toes down, but it is mainly aggravated by activity and exercise. Your doctor may consider an x-ray to rule out stress fractures and other conditions.
The Best Treatment Outcomes Begin with An Accurate Diagnosis
Shin splints could be more serious like a stress fracture or chronic exertional compartment syndrome. If you have severe pain or pain lasting more than a week, please get it checked out by a qualified healthcare provider so you can get a treatment plan to help you heal. At Ravenswood Chiropractic & Wellness Center, we offer Free Consultations, Comprehensive Exams, and Diagnosis of Shin Splints.
Treating shin splints involves rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE) to reduce pain and Radial Shockwave and Laser Therapy. Additionally, targeted physical therapy, including stretching and strengthening exercises and custom orthotics, may help you return to regular physical activity without further injury.
When Will My Shin Splits Feel Better?
This depends on how long you have had the problem and how active you are. Generally, Radial Shockwave Therapy provides the most effective results, followed by rest, ice, compression, and elevation (the RICE method), stretching exercises to increase flexibility in the calf muscles, physical therapy to improve strength and biomechanical imbalance issues, shoe inserts or orthotics to help with arch support and reduce pain while walking or running. Although Radial Shockwave Therapy is remarkable in its acceleration of healing shin splints, treating shin splints requires some downtime. Avoid any physical activity that may have caused the pain while substituting it with other lower-impact forms of exercise, such as swimming, riding a stationary bike, or an elliptical trainer. Taking some time off from physical activity and allowing the body to rest can help minimize the pain caused by shin splints. Correcting your situation’s cause with a custom foot orthotic means you can expect 50-70% relief in the first month, 70-90% in the second month, and 90-100% in the third. In 20 years of practice, we have never seen an instance of surgery needed for shin splints.
When returning to physical activity, gradually increase your duration, intensity, and exercise frequency to avoid further injury. Make sure you wear shoes designed specifically for the physical activity you’re participating in, such as running shoes for a long-distance run. Warm up properly before physical activity to reduce shin splints risk, and include slow stretching in your cool-down routine. Additionally, incorporate low-impact exercises like swimming or biking into your workouts instead of running or jumping. Finally, if you begin to re-experience pain that is severe or lasts more than a week, please consult an experienced chiropractor near you.
A Note on Barefoot Running
Could barefoot running be the answer for shin splints? Recently, more people have switched to this way of running as it is said to help alleviate the effects of shin splints. Some research has shown that running barefoot distributes impact forces among muscles, thereby reducing overload in any one area. Nevertheless, there is no conclusive evidence that barefoot running reduces the risk of injuries, and barefoot running in Chicago presents its own risks. We don’t recommend it, and to the date of this writing in 2023, we have never had a patient that has had to switch to barefoot running as a treatment option for shin splints.
If self-care methods such as rest, ice, and physical therapy don’t relieve the pain of shin splints, you must consult a qualified healthcare provider. A chiropractor can thoroughly examine and rule out any other underlying cause for the discomfort and provide further treatment options.
Schedule an exam with one of our chiropractic physicians today to help accelerate your shin splints recovery and get you back to your sport. Call or text us at 773.878.7330.