“I Think I Have Shin Splints!” Lower Leg Pathologies in Athletics
Dr. Kirk Brumels, Hope College
In the medical field, some illnesses or injuries may go undiagnosed due to an improper use of medical terminology. In athletics, using terms such as “getting my bell rung” can seriously downplay the severity of a concussion; just as saying “it’s just shin splints” can mask more serious issues in the lower leg. When these injuries go undiagnosed or considerably downplayed, the athlete may suffer further injury and other complications. This study looks at one particular case in a collegiate runner who experienced lower leg pain which went diagnosed as “shin splints” until the real reason was found: a stress fracture. Three years of multiple doctors visits and unresolved pain were the result of this original misdiagnosis. This case emphasizes the importance of knowing your anatomy, as well as the signs and symptoms of injuries. This knowledge will help ensure patients the best care by being able to recognize pathologies and possible differential diagnoses that may confound these situations.
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