How to soothe shin splint pain
What is the best way to deal with shin splint pain? I use naproxen as a pain reliever, Voltaren gel and an ice pack, but I've been suffering for about one month. — Angie's List member Joseph Giallonardo
Many athletes and runners suffer from pain in the front part of the leg, which most people refer to as shin splint pain, says Dr. Jeffrey Agricola, a highly rated podiatrist at Prestige Podiatry in Carmel, Ind., who treats patients with this complaint.
"Using anti-inflammatories like naproxen and Voltaren gel might help relieve some of the symptoms, but these things aren't addressing the cause of the problem," Agricola says. The cause can be how you're hitting the ground when you run or do some other activity, he explains.
"If your foot is in a position where you're striking the ground more on the outside of the foot, there are muscles and tendons that have to work harder to hold up the arch, which can pull and strain the front part of the leg," Agricola says.
One of the best ways to reduce this stress is to wear a prescription orthotic insert in your athletic shoes. Orthotics put your foot in a neutral position, which allows you to hit the ground easily so the muscles aren't pulling or tensing as much.
However, if the pain doesn't go away, Agricola suggests making sure the pain isn't from a stress fracture in the leg, which is common in athletes.
The best advice, he says, is to see a health care provider for a proper diagnosis and a potentially simple solution.