Is it Shin Splints or Compartment Syndrome? Why Getting the Correct Diagnosis Is Essential

shin pain specialistIf you are a runner or engage regularly in athletic activity that includes running, odds are you are quite familiar with shin splints—pain in your legs that comes on during your run and makes it difficult to continue. Even if you have never experienced shin splints personally, you probably know someone who has.

You might be less familiar, however, with compartment syndrome. This is a condition that can easily be mistaken for shin splints but requires significantly different treatment.

Shin Splints vs. Compartment Syndrome

Let’s look at the key differences between shin splints and compartment syndrome.

One of those differences has to do with the location of the pain you experience. If you are dealing with shin splints, the pain will be on the inside front of the leg. Conversely, pain caused by compartment syndrome is experienced on the outside front of the leg.

Timing is another telling difference. The pain from shin splints may arise from activities other than exercise. That pain worsens during exercise and then subsides after you stop your vigorous activities. On the other hand, pain that is the result of compartment symptom starts during exercise and may linger for a long time after you stop exercising.

Finally, shin splints have no symptoms related to nerves. But symptoms of compartment syndrome include numbness and/or tingling on the top of the foot.

Different Conditions Require Different Treatments

When it comes to shin splints, treatments are straightforward and non-invasive. They may include stretching and strengthening, shoe and training changes, and corrections to biomechanics.

For compartment syndrome, however, the first step is a lengthy period—often several months—of complete rest from running and other similar exercises. That period of rest is generally followed by a program that includes stretching and strengthening as well as biomechanical corrections. If that does not fully address the issue, compartment syndrome may have to be corrected via surgery.

The Correct Diagnosis Is Essential. Contact Our Baltimore Nerve Pain Specialist Today.

Because the treatments are so different, it is absolutely essential that you get the right diagnosis so that you know whether you are dealing with shin splints or compartment syndrome. Dr. Eric H. Williams has the expertise and experience necessary to make the correct diagnosis and then get you on the road to recovery. If you are experiencing pain when you run, contact us today.

Eric H. Williams MD
Specializing in reconstructive surgery and pain relief in the Greater Baltimore area.
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