Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome (Shin Splints)

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What are shin splints?
Shin splints, also known as medial tibial stress syndrome, is a common injury experienced in the lower leg. This can be extremely painful and result in swelling. This pain can last from days to a number of weeks.

Shins splints are common place in many sports but often seen in members of the military, runners, gymnasts, footballers and dancers. Although there is limited research available, studies suggest that the irritation of the periosteum (a tissue layer covering the bone) at the medial aspect of the tibia being a primary cause. It is important to correctly identify shin splints as there are other conditions which can also present in a similar way e.g tibial plateau fractures or compartment syndrome.

What can cause shin splints?

Common causes of shin splints can include biomechanics irregularities such as overpronation of the foot (flat feet), increased plantarflexion or increased hip external rotation. Shin splints are most commonly caused by: high impact stresses on the legs, an increase in exercise or possibly an overuse injury. A lot of people find when training for long distance events such as marathons or triathlons the mixture of overuse and previous untrained loads can cause shin splints.

What can you do about shin splints?

The best immediate treatment for shin splints is the POLICE.
Protect
Optimally Load
Ice
Compression
Elevation

The ideal treatment will gradually increase muscle strength to surrounding muscles such as the tibials anterior, peroneals and extensor hallucis longus (muscles at the front of the shin), increase strength in the internal hip rotators whilst reducing inflammation and swelling from the irritated tissues.
Other interventions can include the use of a compression sleeve to help with compression, calf or shin supports, and use of a good quality pair of running shoes that correct and imbalances or altered biodynamics.

If you suffer with shin splints, or are worried about an ache or pain, don’t hesitate to contact us or book in with one of our physiotherapist to see what we can do for you!

Posted by
Ed Doe