The term ‘shin splints’ describes a pain and mild swelling in the front of the lower part of the leg. The medical term for shin splints is medial tibial stress syndrome. Shin splints usually occur when someone suddenly increases the intensity of their exercise and the lower leg is unable to withstand the stress placed on it.
Types of shin splints
There are two types of shin splints depending on the area that is affected
1) Anterior shin splints: this type involves the tendon of a muscle known as the anterior tibialis which runs down the front of the leg. This type of shin splints can be caused by tight calf muscles.
2) Posterior shin splints: this type involves the tendon of a muscle known as the posterior tibialis. This muscle runs down the leg, behind the inside ankle bone and into the arch of the foot. This type of shin splints can be caused by excessively flat feet.
- Tenderness and pain along the inner side of the shinbone
- Mild swelling in the lower leg.
- The pain might stop when the person stops exercising. In some cases the pain can be continuous and may lead to a stress fracture of the shin bone.
- Running, especially running on hard and uneven surfaces
- Sudden increase in the duration or intensity of exercise
- Biomechanical issues in the feet
- Tightness in the muscles of the lower leg such as the calf muscles can cause shin splints
- Improper footwear
- Rest: avoid any activities that can cause the pain to become aggravated
- Ice: ice the affected area for 20 minutes a day (do not apply ice directly to the skin)
- Medications: over the counter pain relief medications can help to relieve the pain
- Orthotics: if the patient wishes to continue exercising they can visit a podiatrist to be prescribed custom foot orthotics to correct any biomechanical issues in the feet which can be causing the shin splints
- Stretching: a stretching regime can be prescribed to help stretch out the tight muscles that may be causing the shin splints
- Footwear: supportive footwear that aren’t too flexible with a tight heel counter can help to support the foot and relieve symptoms
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