Posted on Tuesday, February 2, 2016
You’re running along the east coast, feeling energized and free. Suddenly, the front of your leg feels strained. You carry on running, but the pain worsens. Every step is agony, yet you still push through to finish your run. Resting after the run gives you immense relief until the pain returns when you start to walk again.
This anterior leg pain is often referred to as shin splints. It can be any pain from the anterior shin to the ankle. There are three commonly presenting conditions for shin splints. These conditions are most often found in sports personnel; they are caused and worsened by physical activity.
This is a very common injury among athletes, and is an overuse or repetitive-stress injury. MTSS starts from inflammation of the shin splints, which can be worsened by continual exercise. The inflammation occurs along the muscle, tendon and lining of the bone. Repetitive stress on these muscles worsens the injury, as they do not allow the inflammation to heal properly.
The condition can be worsened by running, jumping, soccer, basketball; especially if done on hard surfaces. This causes even more pain to be felt in the lower part of the shin bone. If the pain is untreated, it can become persistent and even present in non-exercise activities such as walking or descending stairs. The pain may then extend to the muscles and bone extending to the front of the leg.
Ways to resolve the pain
Shin splints refer to pain in the anterior compartment of the leg, meaning the front part of your leg. Anterior compartment syndrome describes numbness, tingling, pain and weakness in the leg. Exercise enhances these sensations, creating tightness in the affected compartment. There may also be a decreased feeling of space between the toes due to nerve compression.
What causes this to happen?
Ways to reduce the pain
Ways to prevent recurrence
Stress fractures are overuse injuries; when the muscles are tired they transfer the overload stress in the muscle to the bone causing small cracks called stress fractures.
Athletes in tennis, track, field, gymnastics and basketball are highly susceptible to stress fractures, especially in the lower limb. Women athletes are much more susceptible to stress fractures as they have a higher tendency to have eating disorders, amenorrhea, and osteoporosis leading to decreases bone mass and subsequently stress fractures.
Orthopaedic surgeons, sports physicians and podiatrists can help diagnose and treat stress fractures. X-rays are not a necessity and fractures may not show on x-rays for several weeks, but the clinician may order one to help confirm diagnosis.
Ways to reduce the pain
How to reduce recurrence rates
If you experience persistent pain after sports then please ICE and rest. If resting does not resolve the pain, please seek medical attention.
Recognising the symptoms early and seeking medical help to recover means you can return to sports quickly and efficiently.
Credits to: Georgina Callaghan, Director, Senior Podiatrist, from East Coast Podiatry Centre (www.eastcoastpodiatry.sg)