The term ‘shin splints’ encompasses general pain along the front of your lower leg. It can be split into two categories; muscular and bone pathology.
Muscular shin splints results from pain along one of two muscles, the tibialis anterior or tibialis posterior. Diagnosis is determined depending on the location of pain. It is generally characterised as damage to the muscle and surrounding fascia, resulting in tightness and compression of the muscle onto the bone. It usually results from calf tightness, poor ankle mechanics or increased load through the muscle. It is most common in runners.
Bony ‘shin splints’, or more commonly known as Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome (MTSS) is a stress reaction within the tibia bone in your lower leg. It results in small fracturing of the tibia, which can possibly result in a larger fracture of the bone. It is a chronic overuse injury resulting from high impact sports that involves running and jumping, with an incidence of 4-19% in the athletic population. It is worse with activity and can be very self-limiting.
Causative factors can include a spike or change in training load/activity, the degree and nature of your hip/knee/ankle mechanics, and poor footwear.
Initial treatment involves an acute period of relative rest to allow for reduction of pain and inflammation. Your podiatrist will facilitate this through means such as education, soft tissue release of the calf and tibialis anterior/posterior and hot/cold therapy.
A graduated exercise program will also guide rehabilitation and help you to progressively increase volume and intensity of activity whilst not overloading your shins. Accurate identification of your individual precipitating factors is also crucial in treatment and prevention moving forwards. Footwear modifications and orthotics may be required to reduce stress through the affected areas.
If you would like to learn more about our services, or have some questions regarding our treatment options in our Mount Lawley clinic, feel free to give us a call.
You can reach us at (08) 9271 8805 and one of our friendly team members will be happy to answer your questions.