Home > Dealing With Injury > Stress fracture VS Shin Splints

Stress fracture VS Shin Splints

Breakdown of the difference in Layman’s terms by a Doctor

More Facts and causes of Stress Fractures

Nutrition that reduces inflammation

Taken from a discussion board…

“This is a horns-of-dilemma injury, as shin splints can develop into tibial stress fractures – as happened to me. A doctor will tell you to rest it, then test it, if there is some certainty that it is just shin splints. The problem with that, however, is that continually “testing” it can lead to the fracture – and that’s the difference between 2-3 weeks off and 2-3 months off.

In ’00 I developed a stress fracture, but because I had run on it for a several weeks before it was properly diagnosed, I was off running for about 3 months while it healed. Three years late I clobbered that exact same site and it became a hairline fracture, but with the same symptoms. And, because I recognized them and respected them – stopped running immediately – I was only away from running for 2 months.

Shin splint discomfort will often be diffuse, spread out for a few inches along the shin. A stress fracture will usually be sensitive over a very small area, about the size of a dime. A  s.f. will also often respond to a tuning-fork test, although in my case that didn’t happen.

As grkid says, a bone scan is not usually among the first forms of diagnosis, and after resting, testing, x-rays, and the like, I was sent for a bone scan which confirmed the s.f. (It’s a very nifty procedure, especially watching the image resolve from a million points of graininess into something visibly coherent — even though the resulting image was NOT what I wanted to see!!)

Man, if you can cut to the chase and get a rock-solid diagnosis on this, that would be better than futzing around with it and maybe turning it into a s.f. HOWEVER, for every person with a s.f. there are dozens and dozens and dozens of people who “only” have shin splints, so you’ve got the numbers of your side. Good luck with it all!”

If you get up in the morning and your leg/foot feels fine, but gets worse with running or activity, it may be a stress fracture, since bone healing occurs while resting and will make a fracture feel better after laying down for 8 hours.

Shin splints will usually feel worse in the morning and warm up through the day, but will also be tender while running.

I am currently battling tenderness in my inner left shin (posterior medial tibialis)

Using ice bath, ultrasound, Traumeel cream, Ibuprofen (rarely) to bring down inflammation.  It is not getting any worse.  We will see what happens as I increase mileage.

More great Links

Overuse Injuries, Bone Strain, Stress Fracture

Pictures of Various Stress Fractures on MRI

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