Shin Splints – Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome

What are Shin Splints (MTSS)?

Shin splints, the common term for the diagnosis of this condition is characterised by pain along the medial (sometimes lateral) border of the lower 1/3 of the long bone in the leg (Tibia).

What Causes Shin Splints?

A commonly accepted theory of the cause of MTSS is:
“…an overuse injury or repetitive-stress injury of the shin area. Various stress reactions of the tibia and surrounding musculature occur when the body is unable to heal properly in response to repetitive muscle contractions and tibial strain.” (Galbraith & Lavallee, 2009).

The bottom half of the bodies of runners in a marathon

MTSS usually presents in runners and is more likely to happen with the following:

  • Sudden increase in activity/high activity level
  • Abnormal foot / lower limb biomechanics (flat or high high arched feet, decreased joint range of motion)
  • non-supportive / inappropriate footwear

Shin Splint Treatment

Initial treatments include:
  • Modification of activity level
  • Medication (Anti-inflammatories)
  • Icing/massage
  • Using footwear appropriate for foot type
  • Taping to correct biomechanics of the foot

If Shin Splint Pain Persists

If despite these initial treatments you are still in pain, you may require custom foot orthotics.  These are a great conservative treatment that allow us to control the movement of force through the foot and leg.  This allows us to decrease the stress that is placed on the soft tissue surrounding the tender areas, which gives the body a chance to heal.

Other conditions that produce similar symptoms to MTSS include Compartment syndrome and tibial stress fractures.

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