These are not shin splints. What are they?
December 4, 2015 6:44 PM   Subscribe

I get weird cramps in my shins, but they are NOT shin splints. They occur on the front sides of my tibia -- sometimes the inside, sometimes the outside -- in the fleshy part of the front of my shin, not on my calf, and not on my shin bone (tibia). Sometimes they also occur lower down on the top of my feet. They are really painful, like a Charlie Horse. What are they?

I know for SURE these are not shin splints. I've had shin splints and this is completely different. These are muscle cramps, but they are in parts of my legs that aren't very muscle-y. I have talked to my doctor about them, but I have trouble describing the problem and I haven't gotten a lot of help. I think it would help me if I had a better way of describing this or if it had a real name. YANMD, but does this type of cramp have a name? They are really bad. They occur only at night, and sometimes I wake up already crying from the pain.
posted by OrangeDisk to Health & Fitness (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Do you take any medications or have any other medical conditions? Statins (among other things) are known for causing charlie horse-esque leg cramps.
posted by telegraph at 7:06 PM on December 4, 2015

That sounds like muscle spasms. I get those sometimes in my legs too. Taking magnesium supplements every day for a while usually makes the spasms go away.
posted by ananci at 7:08 PM on December 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I have asthma and take albuterol. Sometimes I take cranberry supplements for UTIs, and ibu for headaches.

I forgot to mention that the cramps are so bad that they leave me with sore muscles.
posted by OrangeDisk at 7:09 PM on December 4, 2015

I used to get terrible shin and foot cramps during pregnancy. One thing that helped was wearing shoes that put less pressure on my instep. Also, taking magnesium helped. There was a pressure point in my shin that I would massage that would help when it did cramp.

I notice from your posting history that you eat a low carb diet. Are you getting enough potassium and magnesium?
posted by cabingirl at 7:10 PM on December 4, 2015 [4 favorites]

See if you need orthotics.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 8:00 PM on December 4, 2015

I get just about every kind of leg cramp, and what I've learned that helps the most is figuring out which kind of cramp needs stretching which way. So if I get a cramp in my calf, I point my toes toward my knee. If I get a cramp on the top of my foot, the other way. You can google good stretches for each part of your leg—I've found that to be super helpful. If you wake up with it cramping, get out of bed if you have to, walk a little, do the stretches, and it should release soon. The shin ones are super hard to get to release; sometimes I have to manually massage them. And yes, they hurt afterward sometimes for days.

Also stay hydrated, and try to turn over a few times during the night when you sleep. I need to keep my legs pretty warm, and I can't have too much weight on them from blankets (seriously, I am a delicate flower) and definitely don't tuck in your sheets or blankets.

Be glad that you don't get the inner thigh cramp. I think that one is the very worst, because it's almost impossible to stretch out easily.

Another interesting link, but just google something like how to release shin cramps, that should help.
posted by clone boulevard at 9:58 PM on December 4, 2015

Stay hydrated and get some calcium/magnesium and potassium supplements and take them before bed every night. I've had the kind of cramps you describe and it's always gone away when I'm good about the water and the cal/mag. You can get them cheap at Swanson.
posted by bink at 11:21 PM on December 4, 2015

Not a doctor. But, I have had two friends with compartment syndrome, and this sounds sort of similar. Surgeries fixed it for both of them.

If I remember correctly, the diagnosis included a pressure measurement of the area before and after exercise. I was told it's rare-ish. If it's not what you have, maybe that can help give you some phrasing. Good luck.
posted by umwhat at 3:57 AM on December 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

I read in The First 20 Minutes that drinking pickle juice helps athletes with cramps and that there is some evidence that drinking vinegar is even better. I'd advise avoiding the quinine tablets sold for cramps. I know someone who has persistent double vision due to those.
posted by SandiBeech at 6:33 AM on December 5, 2015

Drinking mineral water can help, as it will rehydrate you and give you some magnesium. If that doesn't work then ask your doctor about vitamin deficiency. If you weren't having any problems then taking a supplement wouldn't hurt but, because you are having problems, I wouldn't advise it. You could have too much of something in your system already. Adding more could be devastating. Eat more green, leafy vegetables and try to get in as many colors of fruit and veggies as you can. Avoid canned food and anything with MSG, which can cause weird ouchies.
posted by myselfasme at 3:01 PM on December 5, 2015

Do you do any athletic activities, like running or swimming, that might point to the cause?
posted by deathpanels at 5:01 PM on December 5, 2015

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