Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

Overview Risk Factors Symptoms Evaluation Treatment specialist Home Care pain and inflammation using crutches warning signs Underlying Cause Anatomy

Muscle Strain of the Shin Home Care

Home care for an anterior tibial strain includes:

  • Avoid activities that cause pain.
  • Apply a cold compress:
    • Wrap ice in a moist hand towel. Do not apply ice directly to the skin.
    • Apply for 20-30 minutes, every 1-2 hours, for the first few days.
  • Elevate the leg above the heart if it is swollen
  • Rest the injury.
    • Use a walker.
    • Use crutches.
    • Use a cane.
    • Avoid strenuous activity for 2-4 weeks.
  • Stretching exercises for anterior tibial strain
    • Start exercises after 3 days.
    • Gradually increase your activity over 1-2 weeks.
  • Splint for anterior tibial strain
  • Acetaminophen for pain
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications for pain:
  • Take prescribed medications as directed:
    • Don't skip doses of your medication. This makes them less effective.
    • Be aware of the common side effects that may be caused by your medication.

Muscle Strain of the Shin Pain and Inflammation

Medications commonly used to control pain and inflammation in adults with an anterior tibial strain include:


Acetaminophen
  • Acetaminophen decreases fever and pain, but does not help inflammation.
  • Adult dosing is 2 regular strength (325 mg) every 4 hours or 2 extra-strength (500 mg) every 6 hours.
  • Maximum dose is 4,000 mg per day.
  • Avoid this drug if you have alcoholism, liver disease or an allergy to the drug. See the package instructions.
  • Common brand names include Tylenol, Panadol, and many others.

Aspirin

Ibuprofen

Naproxen

Ketoprofen

NSAID Precautions

Muscle Strain of the Shin Using Crutches

Some patients with an anterior tibial strain will require crutches.

You must be able to support your entire weight on one leg, in order to use crutches. Crutches allow you to walk without placing any weight on an injured or painful leg.

Proper Adjustment for Crutches

  • The top of your crutch should be 1-1.5 inches below your armpit as you stand upright and the crutch rests on the floor.
  • The hand grips should be even with your hip joint.
  • Your elbows should bend as you use the hand grips.

Non Weight Bearing Technique
  • Stand on the good leg while using the crutches for balance.
  • Hold the bad leg off the floor.
  • Begin your step as if you are going to step on the bad leg, but do not place any weight on this leg. Instead, place both crutches in front of you and place your weight on your arms.
  • Your arms are supported by the crutches as you grip the crutch handles.
  • The crutches should be placed on the floor at an angle away from the side of your body, in a shape like the upright arms of the capital letter, "A."
  • Your elbows should bend as you support your weight.
  • Gently push off with your good leg after the crutches are firmly planted on the floor. Swing your body forward between the crutches.
  • Rest the top of the crutches tightly against each side of your chest and continue to support your weight with your arms.
  • Do not rest your armpits on the tops of the crutches. This can cause nerve damage.
  • Place your good leg on the floor and allow it to completely support your weight. Swing your crutches slightly away from your body and forward. Place the crutches on the floor to prepare for the next step.
  • Focus on where you are walking -- do not look at your feet.

Partial Weight Bearing Technique
  • Stand on the good leg while using the crutches for balance.
  • Begin to step on the bad leg, but do not place your entire weight on this leg. Instead, place most of your weight on your arms.
  • Your arms are supported by the crutches as you grip the crutch handles.
  • The crutches should be placed on the floor at an angle away from the side of your body, in a shape like the upright arms of the capital letter, "A."
  • Your elbows should bend as you support your weight.
  • Gently push off with your good leg after the crutches are firmly planted on the floor. Swing your bad leg forward between the crutches.
  • Rest the top of the crutches tightly against each side of your chest. Continue to support your weight with your arms and the bad leg.
  • Do not rest your armpits on the tops of the crutches.
  • Place your good leg on the floor and allow it to completely support your weight. Swing your crutches slightly away from your body and forward. Place the crutches on the floor to prepare for the next step.
  • Focus on where you are walking -- do not look at your feet.

Climbing Stairs with Crutches
When climbing stairs, you should climb one stair at a time, completely resting for a moment on one step before moving to the next step.

Follow these steps:
  • Start by supporting your weight with your good leg and both crutches.
  • Place your weight on both of the crutches and move your good leg up to the next step.
  • Transfer your weight to the good leg.
  • Lift the bad leg and the crutches onto the same step where you placed the good leg.
  • Support and stabilize yourself with both crutches and the good leg before moving to the next step.

Going down Stairs on Crutches
When going down stairs, you should go down one stair at a time. Stop and rest for a moment on one step before moving to the next step.

Follow these steps:
  • Start by supporting your weight with your good leg and both crutches.
  • Place your weight on the good leg and place both of the crutches onto the next lower step.
  • Transfer your weight to both crutches.
  • Place the good leg onto the same step where you placed the crutches.
  • Support and stabilize yourself with both crutches and the good leg before moving to the next step.

Muscle Strain of the Shin Warning Signs

Notify your doctor for an anterior tibial strain and any of the following:

Continue to Muscle Strain of the Shin Underlying Cause

Last Updated: Nov 30, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Muscle Strain of the Shin References
  1. Francisco AC, Nightingale RW, Guilak F, Glisson RR, Garrett WE Jr. Comparison of soccer shin guards in preventing tibia fracture. Am J Sports Med. 2000 Mar-Apr;28(2):227-33. [10751000]
  2. Jensen A, Dahl S. Stress fracture of the distal tibia and fibula through heavy lifting. Am J Ind Med. 2005 Feb;47(2):181-3. [15662637]
  3. Thacker SB, Gilchrist J, Stroup DF, Kimsey CD. The prevention of shin splints in sports: a systematic review of literature. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2002 Jan;34(1):32-40. [11782644]
  4. Wilder RP, Sethi S. Overuse injuries: tendinopathies, stress fractures, compartment syndrome, and shin splints. Clin Sports Med. 2004 Jan;23(1):55-81, vi. [15062584]
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