If your shin splints turn into a stress fracture, is it likely to be in the exact same place as the shin splints? I have been in a battle with (diagnosed) shin splints, but have been continuing with some light training (along with lots of icing, compression sleeves, etc.). With the shin splints, they were tender to the touch for a while. Now the pain where my shin splints were is completely gone, but I have another pain about 2 inches toward the outside of the leg. I'm worried about a stress fracture but a) it doesn't hurt when I run/jump/hop/whatever (it really only hurts when I touch it), and b) it's NOT in the same spot as the shin splints, which just seems strange. I'm wondering if it's just a weird pain that isn't really related to anything (that happens as you get older, no? )
I tried researching shin splints turning to stress fractures, and of course lots of people write about it, but no one really states if they occur in the exact same location or not. Does anyone have any personal experience with this?
I don't have experience with any stress fractures (thank goodness) but I too have had lots of problems with shin splints. From what I understand, you can get shin splints anywhere around your shin bone - most of the time they are around the front, but my worst ones were on the inside of my legs and felt like little knots. I went to an orthopedist who made me insert for my sneakers and I also wore braces around the calf muscle that seemed to help. I do some ankle strengthening exercises and I've started cross-training with some barefoot running and no longer need the orthotics or the braces but when I do feel pain I back off. My advice would be rest and ice for a few days to see if the new pain goes away. If not, you should get it checked out by a doctor. Also, I've heard that stress fractures typically hurt the most when you first get out of bed.
Something called a "shin splint" can be closely related enough to a stress fracture to be an extension of the same process at the same location. These terms are not as precise as people think. The spot where a muscle attaches to the periosteum ("skin") of the bone may pull away in an avulsion fracture, or inflame and produce pain at the same spot. Pressing either will produce sharp pain, and an x-ray could show calcification later in either case, being diagnosed either way.
Internal bone structure is very strong and complex. Not at all like the porcelain it outwardly resembles. Superficial fractures have little chance of becoming anything more, but will show as pain and eventually as a line on your x-ray, just as another calcium deposit will. Either way, it shows strain to the involved tissues, be they soft or hard.
Julie's mention of the importance of form to such pains is important for determining cause of such strains, no matter how you approach later therapies and healing. Eliminate the causes of overuse injuries, and you can make your healing a permanent solution, rather than the first of a long list of injuries.
In the early days of my running, I had muscle strains or shin splints that hurt so bad I thought the bone was fractured. The strain is hard to distinguish from a break, but I found really sensitive spots in the softer tissues between the bones that produced the deep ache of broken bone, which I have experienced, having completely broken both lower leg bones in the past. There are several muscles in these nooks and crannies that work together or in opposition to one another, depending on location. When strained they spend more time trying to immobilize themselves so you won't run, and they can heal. Getting your thumbs in there hurts, but can hurt good if the muscle is the problem.
Review this aid for muscle location and function. Where and what it is has some importance, but the most important thing is to identify actions that use/strain the muscles, where they attach to the periosteum of the bone, and if manual pressure to change circulation in these soft tissues causes them to heal faster. It worked for me. Never had the same problem since, after many marathons and thousands of miles.
James, thanks so much for your explanation ( though not directed at me...still very helpful). I have had the worst shin splint for over a month....I rest it, it's fine then back it comes again. Would you suggest compression socks while I run. Or is this masking the pain?