Shin Splints

Shin Splints

Article by John Miller

Shin Splints

Insights into Shin Pain

Shin splints, a frequent issue among athletes and active individuals, cause pain in the lower legs, predominantly during high-impact activities like running and jumping.

This article discusses shin pain from a physiotherapist’s viewpoint, discussing their types, causes, diagnosis, and treatment strategies. Early intervention by a physiotherapist can avert further complications and facilitate a quick return to activities.

Exploring the Types of Shin Splints

There are two primary categories of shin splints:

Anterior Shin Splints

This type affects the front part of the shinbone, involving the tibialis anterior muscle responsible for foot movements. Pain manifests when lifting the toes while the heels are grounded, indicating inflammation.

Also known as anterior tibial stress syndrome, proper management is essential to avoid aggravation. Read more: Anterior Shin Splints

Posterior Shin Splints

Posterior shin splints impact the inner rear of the shinbone, stressing the tibialis posterior muscle, which supports the inner arch of the foot. In some instance this can predispose you to tibialis posterior tendinopathy.

Symptoms include pain along the inside back of the shin.

It’s crucial to differentiate this from medial tibial stress syndrome (MTSS) and tibial stress fractures as management significantly differs.

Physiotherapist treating middle-aged patient's shin splints
Physio Care For Shin Splints.

Causes and Contributing Factors

Shin splints arise from a variety of causes, including:

  • Sudden increase in physical activities without sufficient rest
  • Running on hard or uneven surfaces
  • Biomechanical issues like overpronation or limited ankle movement
  • Poor muscle control in the legs and hips
  • Tight calf muscles
  • Inappropriate footwear

Identifying the exact cause is key to effective treatment and prevention.

Identifying the Affected Areas

Shin pain typically originates from the overuse of muscles, the tenoperiosteum (where tendon meets bone), and the shinbone itself. The lower third of the tibia is often where bone injuries, ranging from mild stress reactions to severe stress fractures, occur.

Detailed diagnosis might require MRI, as X-rays might not detect these injuries.

Symptoms and Diagnosis

Symptoms include a dull ache in the lower leg, with pain varying in intensity. If pain worsens during physical activities, immediate professional advice is advisable.

Diagnosis generally involves a physical examination and medical history review, with imaging tests conducted to rule out other conditions like stress fractures.

Treatment and Rehabilitation

Treatment involves a multi-stage rehabilitation program, beginning with injury protection and pain and inflammation reduction. This is followed by motion restoration, foot assessment, and muscle strengthening, aiming for a safe return to sports or training.

Following a physiotherapist’s plan is crucial for effective recovery. (Alfayez et al 2017)

Returning to running is a challenge if you wish to avoid a recurrence of your shin pain, so assessing your foot biomechanics and control should be undertaken. Foot posture exercises are often beneficial to control the foot arch and reduce torsional stresses further up the shin.

Expected Outcomes

Recovery depends on the severity of the injury, commitment to the treatment plan, and individual activity demands. Untreated shin pain can lead to more serious conditions like tibial stress syndrome or stress fractures.

A diligent approach to treatment ensures the best recovery outcomes.

shin pain running
Return To Running Without Shin Pain

Conclusion and Preventative Measures

Shin splints, while common, should not be underestimated. Awareness of their causes, symptoms, and treatments is essential for both prevention and effective recovery.

Seeking professional guidance at the first sign of discomfort is key. Maintaining the health of your legs is vital for an active and healthy lifestyle.

Seeking Professional Help

If you’re experiencing shin pain, don’t hesitate to consult a physiotherapist. They will pinpoint the cause, create a tailored treatment plan, and guide you through recovery. Stay active, but always prioritise your safety.

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Common Sources and Conditions

Understanding the common shin pain causes is crucial for effective management and prevention. This section discusses the various factors that contribute to shin pain.

General Overview of Shin Pain

Exploring the basics and general aspects of shin pain

Specific Conditions Related to Shin Pain

Shin Splints

Bone-Related Issues

Tendon and Muscle Problems

Achilles Tendon Issues

Other Related Conditions

Shin Pain Due to Overuse and External Factors

Systemic and Neurological Conditions Leading to Shin Pain

Shin Pain Treatment

Effective treatment options vary depending on the cause of shin pain. This part provides guidance on treating different types of shin pain.

Shin Pain FAQs

This section answers frequently asked questions about shin pain, providing valuable information for those experiencing or concerned about shin pain.

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