Why Do My Shins Hurt When I Walk?

Your body is filled with paired groups: your eyes, your ears, your lungs, and your muscles. Pairs are especially important for movement. Your muscles can only pull in one direction—they contract and then release. For your limbs to change direction, like bending and straightening, your muscles have to be matched to an opposite. When the tendon in one half of a pair becomes damaged, however, as in anterior tendonitis, that muscle isn’t able to do its job well, weakening the whole limb.

Wearing out the Tendon

Also called tibialis anterior tendonitis, this condition involves the overuse of the tendon that attaches your tibialis anterior muscle to the top of your foot. The muscle and its tendon run down along your shin bone and are largely responsible for your ability to flex your foot. This helps control your footfalls whenever you take a step. Like other connectors, however, the tendon can become overworked and irritated. Repeated impacts from sports on hard surfaces, rapid direction changes, and hill running can all inflame the connector. Kicking sports can also strain it. Sometimes direct rubbing against the tendon from too-tight shoes can cause trouble as well.

The discomfort usually develops over time as the tissue becomes more and more stressed. The front of the shin, ankle, or top of the foot hurt, especially when you’re active or spend long periods of time standing. The top of the foot may also appear red and inflamed. Often there is some swelling. Depending on how far the irritation has progressed, you may experience some weakness when you try to flex your foot. Like other overuse injuries, anterior tendonitis does not go away on its own—you will need targeted treatment to prevent complications and chronic pain from developing.

Relaxing and Restoring

The longer this injury goes untreated, the harder it is to remedy. A chronically inflamed tibialis anterior tendon is also at greater risk for rupture, drop foot, and claw toe. Our expert podiatrists can evaluate your top of the foot pain and determine if tendonitis is the culprit. We’ll examine your lower limbs thoroughly and check for any complications as well. We may request diagnostic images to be able to see the affected tissue more clearly.

Once we understand the extent of your injury, we can help relieve your pain and restore the tendon. Usually this condition can be treated quite successfully using conservative measures. You will need to relieve the strain, irritation, and inflammation of your lower limb. Rest and ice are two of the most effective tools to do this. You’ll need to limit your activities for a while to give your tendon a chance to recover. You may need to wear a brace, walking boot, or even a cast for a time, depending on the severity of the problem, to help restrict extra movement of the foot. Icing helps discourage any swelling as well. Physical therapy, especially stretching the calf muscle, can sometimes help. Country Foot Care doctors may also recommend anti-inflammatory painkillers. If the tendon isn’t responding to treatment, or the tendon has already torn, you may need surgery to repair it.

Your feet were never meant to be in pain. If you’re experiencing pain and weakness along the top or front of your feet or ankles, you may have developed anterior tendonitis. An overuse injury like this will only get worse the longer you ignore it, so seek help for the discomfort right away. Our staff is ready to assist you with any questions or if you would like to make an appointment.  Simply call one of our offices or to quickly make an appointment online us the MAKE AN APPOINTMENT form at the top of this page.