Shin Stitches and Training

author : AMSSM
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How much can I train after getting stitches?

BeginnerTriathlete User Question:
"So I whacked my shin by sliding off the step into my truck.. Five stitches later, I am looking for training advice. The wound is probably 8 inches up from the ankle crease right on the shin. My question is of course, how long would you guys recommend letting it heal before beginning to train again? I don't know if the shin sees that much pressure and since the stitches are not on a joint, I was hoping my downtime would be minimal. I will keep it out of water, just want to know when I can run/lift legs without worrying about stitches busting."

Answer from Ryan Lingor, MD
Member AMSSM

A hit to the shins can be terribly painful, but for a triathlete, taking time off from training can hurt even more. There are two primary reasons for placing sutures in the skin: to help restore the natural barrier of the skin and to minimize the risk of infection. Both of these considerations, along with any underlying injury, have to be taken into account when deciding when it is safe to return to a certain activity.

Fortunately in your case, wound healing is a little less complicated when the injury is over a long bone as opposed to over a joint or skin crease. After sutures are placed, it is okay to shower typically the next day but you should be cautious to not scrub that particular area. It is best to simply ignore that area when showering and let water flow over that incision without paying particular attention to it, or gently patting that area with a washcloth wetted with warm, soapy water. It is typically recommended to not submerge the area in water (both bathing and swimming) until after the sutures are removed.


Exercise and Sutures


Exercise should not be undertaken if the wound is painful, bleeding, or surrounded by a lot of redness. If the sutured area is over a long bone, you could safely resume light running and biking 48 hours after the sutures are placed. If the sutures are over a joint, it would be best to wait for 10 to 14 days prior to doing activity, so as not to disrupt the healing of the skin. Regardless of where sutures are placed, swimming should be avoided until about 10 to 14 days after the stitches are placed.

It is recommended to cover the wound during exercise until the skin is fully healed (about 4 to 5 days after the sutures are removed) to avoid dirt, sweat, and other debris from getting into the site and to prevent irritation from any clothes or equipment.


Duration of Sutures


Sutures generally remain in place from four to 14 days depending upon location. Stitches placed on the face and neck will typically remain in place for about four to five days. Those on the trunk and upper extremities will be removed after six to eight days. Stitches on the lower extremities should stay in place until eight to 10 days, and those on the scalp for up to 14 days.


Prophylactic Antibiotics


Healthy patients with minor wounds, other than bites, do not need antibiotics. Prophylactic antibiotics may help to decrease the risk of injection in animal and human bites, open fractures, and wounds that extend to the bone, tendon, or joint. Antibiotics may be warranted if a person has vascular disease or a compromised immune system.


Follow-up Care


You typically do not need to be seen by a physician after sutures are placed until they are to be removed, as long as the wound is clean and there are no signs of infection. If signs of redness, increasing warmth, yellow-green discharge, or fevers or chills are present, then it is recommended to see your doctor immediately.

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date: December 1, 2016

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The American Medical Society for Sports Medicine (AMSSM) was formed in 1991 to fill a void that has existed in sports medicine from its earliest beginnings. The founders most recognized and expert sports medicine specialists realized that while there are several physician organizations which support sports medicine, there has not been a forum specific for primary care non-surgical sports medicine physicians.

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The American Medical Society for Sports Medicine (AMSSM) was formed in 1991 to fill a void that has existed in sports medicine from its earliest beginnings. The founders most recognized and expert sports medicine specialists realized that while there are several physician organizations which support sports medicine, there has not been a forum specific for primary care non-surgical sports medicine physicians.

FIND A SPORTS MEDICINE DOCTOR

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