If you are dealing with a lingering pain in your ankle, it’s possible that those shin splints you initially thought you were suffering from could actually be a more serious stress fracture.
Shin splints and stress fractures can become chronic or severe if not treated properly and it is important to immediately discontinue whatever activity is being performed and seek medical guidance if you believe you are suffering from either.
The issue, however, is identifying which particular injury you are dealing with in order to correctly treat the problem as the nature of the pain for both shin splints and stress fractures can sometimes be virtually identical.
A common exercise-related injury, shin splints are the result of inflammation due to an injury of the soft tissues in the front of the outer leg (tibia). It has been known to occur most commonly in runners, but in reality any rigorous activity in which repetitive stress is placed on the shinbone can bring about this condition.
One of the main symptoms of shin splints is a shooting, aching pain in the front of your lower leg(s) when that is often felt while running, but later subsides when the intensity of your workout is lowered. If you have shin splints, it’s more than likely that you don’t feel this pain when you’re inactive.
It is also more likely for a person to incur shin splints when their leg muscles and tendons are tired or if the intensity of their workout is rapidly increased. Women, people with flat feet or rigid arches, athletes, military recruits, and dancers all have an increased likelihood of developing shin splints.
Stress fractures, on the other hand, are caused by actual cracks or breaks in either of the bones in the lower leg, the tibia or fibula. If you suffer from this injury, you’ll experience pain that’s usually in the lower third part of the shin, tenderness or swelling in the specific injured area, and pain when you press on your shin.
Unlike shin splints, however, the pain caused by a stress fracture doesn’t subside when you stop running and can often be felt during even the most minimal physical activity.
So how can you distinguish between the two injuries? Well, in order to receive a proper diagnosis, it’s always best to consult your doctor.
At Delray Beach Podiatry, Dr. Ian S. Goldbaum, a podiatric physician and surgeon with over 30 years of experience, likes to perform several tests in order to properly identify what is ailing his patients.
“First of all, we’ll take an x-ray,” said Dr. Goldbaum, who has offices in Delray Beach, Boca Raton and Boynton Beach. “Then, we’ll go through range of motion to check the ligaments and see if we can pinpoint the pain.”