What Are Shin Splints?
Shin splints occur when the tissue covering the tibia bone called the periosteum and the tibialis posterior muscle becomes inflamed. Shin splints are also called medial tibial stress syndrome.
Tenderness of the shin, specifically the lower inside tibia bone. Pain usually is present with exercises but can sometimes be present even when resting. Shin splints are very common in athletes and those who have begun a new exercise program.
X-rays will initially be taken. A bone scan or MRI may be ordered to ensure that a stress fracture is not present. Shin splints should also be differentiated from another condition called exertional compartment syndrome. If a patient has similar symptoms, measuring muscle compartment pressures may be recommended.
First it is important to determine any biomechanical variant that may be responsible for causing the shin splints and correct it if possible. Shin splints are often correlated with flat feet or pronation. Supportive shoes and orthotics play a large role in correcting body mechanics and muscle rebalancing. Ice and anti-inflammatory medication can reduce inflammation. Stretching and other physical therapy techniques can be very helpful.
Is Surgery Needed?
Although releasing part of the posterior tibial muscle has been described for the high level athlete that suffers from protracted shin splints, it is rarely performed or recommended. Almost always shin splints resolve with conservative therapy and activity modification. Cross training and gradually increasing a new fitness regimen are important factors that help prevent shin splints.
If you believe you may be suffering from shin splints we would encourage you to make an appointment for an evaluation today.