Shin splints or stress fracture? Royal navy.

15 messages
07/08/2012 at 09:53
Hello everyone, first time poster so bear with me if this is the wrong place! Recent I have had pain in my left shin. It doesn't really hurt before or during running, but after I do my cool down, its slightly tender. I would be so worried and would take the time off running, but I'm joining the royal navy soon, and I really don't want to stop training. I have researched online, and some of the symptoms are similar to a stress fracture, such as it hurts when I crouch down, and when I hope on one leg it hurts. But doesn't really hurt to walk on. 4 Also I have a couple of tender spots if I touch the inside of my shin, about 4 inches up from my ankle, and its about one inch of tender shin bone. Sorry if this is topic is posted a lot, its just I'm becoming worried, and I have been waiting 2 1/2 years for my dream job, and don't want to fall at the last hurdle. Many thanks, Aidan
07/08/2012 at 13:08

I would get it checked.  It's unlikely to go away if you ignore it and could negatively impact your training for a long time.  I ignored a recurring injury last year until I ended up stopping on a run by literally hopping to a standstill, and have been unable to run properly for most of this year as a result, missing 3 events.  (I'm now training hard again, but still not running yet - lots of cross training.)  At least if you have it checked you'll know what you're dealing with.

09/08/2012 at 22:53

sounds a bit like shin splints but go see someone to check

10/08/2012 at 04:05

I think its very hard to know just by feeling, weather something could be a stress fracture or a shin splint.

 

Shin splints are where the muscle expands too fast for your body to cope with and as a result the muscle tears away from the bone and this causes pain. A stress fracture is where the bone and not the muscle is affected and as a result the very fine covering on the bone is irritated and this is what hurts. Even if you have had both I'd say it would be hard to decifer between them.

 

I've had a SF and found my leg throbbed alot all the time but I could manage a good 5 minutes without much pain then all of a sudden it would return and after about 15 minutes I'd be unable to run again due to the pain. I spoke to a Doctor about this and was told it sounded like a muscle issue, I later saw a physio who prodded where the pain was and although it hurt it wasn't so painful I needed to tell her to back off (it hurt far more to walk on) I was told "it couldn't possibly be a stress fracture or you'd be on the celing!" Infact just over a week later I had a specialised bone scan which showed a clear stress fracture. If even a physio and Doctor can't tell the difference I think you and me without a full textbook of information and possible various degrees then I doubt we'd stand much of a chance!

 

Go to get it checked out to find out what it is by all means but bare in mind if its either a SF or SS your treatment is going to be rest and for a few months. Its important when returning to running after a break like that to do so slowly and if you feel ANY pain at all in the same area, stop and rest again until it goes away (as in months not minutes!) the only thing you can be sure of is not resting it will make it worse and will make the recovery time longer.

06/09/2012 at 22:15

I'm not sure now which I have, as my pain is really very sore when I walk(dwn my shin and over the front of my foot), running didnt seem to bother it last night while running but today it was very hard to walk home from work without stopping a few times, its sore when i bend down or stretch my foot out, I have a 5k charity run in 2 wks and not doing it is not an option as I already have over £100 in justgiving donations!!!!

Claire x

 

07/09/2012 at 00:10

I think the important thing to realise is that shin splints are like an early warning system that all is not well in that area.  I learned this to my cost a few years ago when I ignored shin splints, which progressed into stress fractures.  Best way to tell if you have a stress fracture is tapping a metal tuning fork along the bone - you'll know if it's a stress fracture because you'll hit the roof with pain.  Get it checked!

07/09/2012 at 03:09
strunner wrote (see)

I think the important thing to realise is that shin splints are like an early warning system that all is not well in that area.  I learned this to my cost a few years ago when I ignored shin splints, which progressed into stress fractures.  Best way to tell if you have a stress fracture is tapping a metal tuning fork along the bone - you'll know if it's a stress fracture because you'll hit the roof with pain.  Get it checked!

Sadly, this didn't work for me (the stress fracture thing) I had physios prod and thud my leg ony to tell me I wasn't on the celing so was fine and despite my complaints that hopping made it worse, was told to hop until it hurt, wait for 30 seconds and hop some more because it was in their minds basicly me being a wimp. I had the scan results very shortly after (as in a week later) and they showed a very pronounced stress fracture and took months to heal. I would say us runners tend to have a higher pain threshold because we tend to want to ignore pain (rather then just not feeling it) because at the back of our minds is the knowledge that if something is injured, we need to stop running. Few actually want to stop running.

 

Shin splints are more then an early warning system- they are an injury, you should stop if you get them and wait for them to recover, but I get what your saying about it being a warning. Injury is a warning that something isn't working well and you need to find out what's caused the injury before carrying on otherwise the problem will just return and the pain will just get worse.

07/09/2012 at 20:57

Jennn - I wonder if there was a difference because your stress fracture was, as you say, very pronounced?  I'm no expert at all, but does this affect whether a tuning fork works?  Or did you simply get unlucky with your physio?  This hopping stuff sounds weird, for example.  Regarding scans, I was told that x-rays (don't know about other kinds of scans) don't show up hairline stress fractures, as mine were.  Agree with you anyway that shin splints are a reason to stop and get seen to.

08/09/2012 at 01:26
Sounds very similar to what I've got Aidan. Never had shin splints or shin pain before, started back running after an injury to my left ankle and began having trouble with my right shin. It was runable most of the time and would vary in degree but I was getting next day swelling and the inside of the shin was sensitive to the touch. After months of persevering went to a specialist. A few Xrays and an MRI scan later it turned out to be stress damage in the fibula. Not a fracture, but trauma to the bone. By continuing to run and put stress through it it wasn't healing. I'm in the middle of my 10 weeks off running to allow full recovery after which it should be right as rain. Doing a variety of cross training instead.

Basically get it checked out - although it can get some time for a full diagnosis. If you don't have a history of shin splints and this is new then something is not happy. Cross training will keep your fitness high and let the shin rest a few weeks without running.
08/09/2012 at 03:43
strunner wrote (see)

Jennn - I wonder if there was a difference because your stress fracture was, as you say, very pronounced?  I'm no expert at all, but does this affect whether a tuning fork works?  Or did you simply get unlucky with your physio?  This hopping stuff sounds weird, for example.  Regarding scans, I was told that x-rays (don't know about other kinds of scans) don't show up hairline stress fractures, as mine were.  Agree with you anyway that shin splints are a reason to stop and get seen to.

Oh the case I had was unfortunate because the physio service I had was the most unhelpful service I've ever known, I had seen several physios in the years I'd had the pain (yes years) with one even saying to me that I was a perfect patient because there was no way anything could go wrong if I didn't have a problem and it just meant he had only to prescribe general fitness techniques- but that it wasn't a bad thing because people like me kept people like him employed. I didn't got back to see him again.

 

The tuning fork thing was never done, what was done was prodding my leg- or should I say 'jabbing' my leg with a finger and then heavily hinting I had made the whole thing up because I wasn't on the celing. Call me weird but it hurt a hell of a lot more when I chose to run and after 2 years of the thing, it had gotten to the point where I could brace myself and get used to the pain. Not that it didn't hurt but that I had learnt what to expect and how to 'breathe' through the pain.

 

The hopping stuff was definetly not the right thing to advise- you see to them, until they got the scan (the last time I had seen them the scan results came through 2 weeks later) in their minds (yup, more then one, the second being the manager) I had no problem, to them it was just a girl being pathetic and with a low pain threshold. Their diagnosis was that I had weak muscles (odd when you consider how large they are and how bl**dy difficult it is to get any slim fitting trousers as a direct result!) and the cure was to hop on my leg to build up the muscles, they had said if it hurts to break for a few seconds but in their minds the pain was nothing at all so the only reason I was hopping was to build up the muscles, the pain was as a result of the weakness.

 I wish I'd had the time and energy to take the results back to them and show them where exactly they went wrong. When I was referred back again following the diagnosis the physios I'd seen had moved because they were on rotation.

08/09/2012 at 07:00

I guess that pain in old age is almost inevitable. From the information available as regards quality of life in later years of life, the average time span from the onset of a permanent affliction to death is 17 years. In cases such as this the human body is reacting to actual physical harm in the way it has evolved to. The length of time it can take to reach the end-game under this insidious assault bears testament to the resilience of the human frame. This is where pain killers and in some societies, drugs, play their part. The Doctors; who have spent seven years studying, are there primarily to administer care where appropriate to these members of society who have in general no choice at all. In this context, the members of society who; exacerbate their painful conditions by persisting with the activities that cause it, and do so by choice are.........................................? Well, who knows what goes on in their minds, I'm not a Doctor.

08/09/2012 at 11:58

Aidan, what you describe sounds exactly the same as what I had recently, but not quite as severe. My shin hurt like hell to hop on, hurt like hell to crouch down on, was tender to the touch, pain that came and went (not always related to exercise), and basically had me panicking it was a stress fracture. Went to see my usual physio who diagnosed basic shin splints, gave it a good deep massage - including the soles of my feet and my calves - and it's since eased off a lot.

Most likely you've got shin splints just as that's much more common than stress fractures, but like other people have already said, you really need to track down the cause of it, otherwise you'll rest a bit, it'll go away, you'll start training more, and it'll just come back, probably worse each time.

After a bit of investigating and some slow-mo running footage playback, the cause of mine turned out to be that I was turning the toes of one foot ever so slightly outwards on landing, meaning I was rolling slightly on to the inside of that foot on push-off, which was stressing the muscles over my shin. All compounded by hypermobile joints allowing that ankle to roll around way more that it should be. Somewhat similar to pronation, but not quite the same and not treatable with motion control shoes, as I'm not a pronator, I'm a neutral runner with over-flexible ankles.

Ten other people could have ten different causes, so it's not really something you can take advice for as to what's causing it online. Best to go see a physio or running specialist and get gait analysis so you can figure out what's happening with your feet and ankles when you're running.

09/09/2012 at 18:43
Hi Aidan,
Telling if it's shin splints or stress fracture without an examination is very hard. It's also worth pointing out that there are over 30 causes of shin pain! Not all shin pain is shin splints.
With a stress fracture there is usually a specific tender spot on the bone which hurts with impact (hopping or running) whereas with shin splints the symptoms are usually more spread along the length of the bone and you may tolerate light impact. As people have said though shin splints can actually be the early stages of a stress fracture so it needs to be checked out properly.
Loads of info on shin splints and stress fractures here;
http://www.running-physio.com/shinpain/
09/09/2012 at 20:50

Aidan, I'm in the same boat, I've been told I have a stress fracture except I don't have any pain when touching the area at all and I can hop on it. It's very confusing. All I will say is stop training now. 2 weeks off is better than 7 months... and I wish I could go back and change that now.

10/09/2012 at 13:03

My doctor said to me that i should rest my swollen legs for 4-5 weeks then start running once a week and ignore the pain (7-8 km on soft ground), if the pain vanishes i will increase to 2x a week, then next year i will start playing football even if my shins hurt.

Edit: Shin splints

Edited: 10/09/2012 at 13:19

We'd love you to add a comment! Please login or take half a minute to register as a free member
15 messages
Previously bookmarked threads are now visible in "Followed Threads". You can also manage notifications on these threads from the "Forum Settings" section of your profile settings page to prevent being sent an email when a reply is made.
Forum Jump  

RW competitions

RW Forums