Shin splints seem to result from injury to the tibialis anterior muscle and adjacent tissues in the front of the outer (anterior shin splints) or inner (posterior shin splints) leg. Shin splints occur most commonly in runners or with impact sport.
Shin splint discomfort is often described as dull at first. The pain associated with this condition may also warm up with activity in the initial stages of injury. As the condition progresses, patients may experience symptoms that increase during sport or activity, affecting performance. With repeated aggravation, the pain can become so extreme the athlete has to stop training altogether.
Shin splints can be caused by a sudden increase in distance or intensity of workout schedule. This increase in muscle work can be associated with inflammation of the shin muscles or bone lining (periostitis). The symptoms can also be aggravated by flat/pronated feet.
Similarly, a tight achilles tendon or weak ankle muscles are also often implicated in the development of shin splints. These factors are assessed and treated during your full assessment with our Physiotherapists.
Patients with this condition typically experience pain on firmly touching the inner border of the shin bone particularly along the lower third of the bone. Areas of muscle tightness, thickening or lumps may also be felt in the area of pain. In severe cases, swelling, redness and warmth may also be present.
Treatment for Shin Splints
Physiotherapy treatment for patients with this condition is vital to hasten the healing process, ensure an optimal outcome and decrease the likelihood of injury recurrence. Treatment may comprise:
- Exercise programs to stretch, self treat and improve proprioception, balance and strength
- Biomechanical assessment
- Education / training advise/ phased return to exercise
- Activity modification advice
- Joint mobilisation
- Joint manipulation
- Spinal and pelvic realignment
- Deep tissue massage/myofascial release
- Dry needling /acupuncture
- Orthotic/insole advice
- Ice or heat treatment
- Clinical Pilates