One common type of what is known as shin splints is Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome (MTSS). It is an overuse injury of lower leg musculature. Shin splints usually occur when too much stress localised at the tibia (shin) bone causes inflammation of the muscle, tendon, and periosteum (bone lining). Usually this occurs when there is an increase in physical activity which lead to the musculoskeletal tissues being overworked. If shin splints are not diagnosed and treated early, it may lead to serious complications such as tibial stress fracture or chronic compartment syndrome. At that point, orthopaedic surgery may be required.
Shin splints are often caused by an increase in physical activity, such as after the new year when many people start to exercise more to keep fit. This causes the muscles around the tibia bone to be overused and fatigued.
Common factors contributing to shin splints are:
Over-pronation of the foot
Type of weightbearing surface
Runners are a high-risk group for getting shin splints due to the nature of the sport, where the legs are placed under repetitive stress. Other groups such as military personnel and dancers are also at risk of developing shin splints.
Pain at the inside edge of the tibia (shin bone), aggravated by manual pressure
Pain can feel sharp, or dull and aching
Pain during or after vigorous activity or exercise
Pain during the mornings which can reduce after warming up
The first line of treatment is to stop all physical activities, and use icing to reduce the pain and inflammation around the tibia.
Treatments which are available are:
Your podiatrist will further assess your condition, and recommend the treatment which you would need to resolve your shin splint.
Author: Podiatrist Benedict KHOO
Editor: Principal Podiatrist Michael LAI