Shin Splints

Shin SplintsShin Splints and Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome is the term used when describing pain over the lower legs, in particular pain over the inside (medial) aspect of the shin bone (tibia).

The term ‘shin splints’ is not an accurate clinical diagnosis. In order to treat this condition it is important to confirm which soft tissue structures are injured.

Shin splints, when left untreated, can quickly become one of the worst running-related injuries that will hinder your workout. You can get them by increasing your running frequency, intensity, or duration, not to mention, improper form or poorly-fitted shoes cause them to inflame.

The effect? Lots of burning lower-leg pain that can cripple your workouts and keep you from racing. Learn how to prevent and treat shin splints, so you don’t enter your first spring race behind.

Shin splints cause pain in the front of the outer leg below the knee. The pain of shin splints is characteristically located on the outer edge of the mid region of the leg next to the shinbone (tibia). An area of discomfort measuring 4-6 inches (10-15 cm) in length is frequently present. Pain is often noted at the early portion of the workout, then lessens, only to reappear near the end of the training session. Shin splint discomfort is often described as dull at first. However, with continuing trauma, the pain can become so extreme as to cause the athlete to stop workouts altogether.

A clinical assessment, and sometimes an x-ray or electromagnetic imaging (EMG), is required for a clearer understanding of the injury.

Possible diagnosis include:

  • Tibialis Posterior Tendonopathy,
  • Flexor Hallcus Longus Tendinopathy,
  • Tibial Stress Fracture
  • Compartment Syndrome.

However, one of main underlying causes of all of the afore mentioned injuries is foot posture. Excessive foot pronation, (flat feet or pes planus) or foot supination (high arch or pes cavus), will result in changes in the activity of the muscles that surround the ankle and shin bone. This may lead to early onset of muscle fatigue and the transfer of increased load to the shin bone (tibia).

In addition to analysing foot posture to confirm the appearance of a pronated foot or supinated foot, the clinician will also assess the function and position of the hip joint and pelvis, and the affect this has on the knee position.

The Foot and Leg Clinic based in Glasgow and Edinburgh can help with shin splints. We carry out an in-depth biomechanical assessment, supply foot orthotics if required, perform foot mobilisation treatment on the foot and ankle and work with the physiotherapist, radiographer, doctor and consultant in devising the best treatment plan for the patient.

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