Shin splints, also known as Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome (MTSS), is a common overuse injury. It is caused by repetitive activities that put stress on the shin bone and nearby muscles, such as running, jumping, or playing sports. If you’re an athlete who has experienced shin splints, there are treatment options available. In addition to these treatments, there are also steps you can take to prevent shin splints from occurring in the first place. In this blog post, we will outline what you need to know about treating and preventing shin splints.
Those involved in running or other high-impact activities are prone to medial tibial stress syndrome (MTSS) or shin splints. This is a condition that involves inflammation and tension in the muscles located around the tibia, which can cause pain and discomfort. Shin splints are an undesirable outcome of running, but they are also an all-too-common overuse injury. Fortunately, treatment for shin splints is available so that individuals can get back to running sooner than later.
Running, jumping and other activities put increasing pressure on the periosteum in the shin region of your leg, leading to what is commonly known as shin splints. This overuse injury is caused by excessively putting strain on these muscles, bone tissue, and tendons surrounding the shin bone – resulting in swelling, pain, and/or discomfort.
Shin splints present biomechanically as a common overuse injury. Causes range from poor foot alignment, increasing activity too quickly, wearing unsuitable footwear, and having weak leg muscles to flat/high arches. Fortunately, conservative treatments such as strengthening exercises, taping, and orthotics are available for those suffering from shin splints. It’s important to pay attention to biomechanics by taking time to transition into new activities or wearing the correct footwear. Moreover, proper rest and recovery will help keep this injury at bay.
Symptoms and Diagnosis of MTSS/Shin Splints
If you have been experiencing pain in your shins while engaging in physical activity, it is important to understand the symptoms of MTSS and how it is diagnosed by medical professionals. Common symptoms include swelling or tenderness in the area around your shin bone (tibia). You may also experience pain when touching the affected area or when stretching your calf muscles. To diagnose MTSS, your doctor will likely perform an x-ray or MRI scan to rule out any other injuries.
Prevention Strategies for Shin Splints
It is always better to try and prevent an injury than to treat one once it has already occurred. The following strategies can help prevent MTSS before it starts:
• Proper foot alignment techniques – Make sure that your feet are aligned properly during exercise or sports activities. This will reduce stress on the tibia bone and surrounding tissues;
• Gradually increasing activity levels – Don’t jump into intense exercise routines without taking time to gradually increase your activity levels;
• Appropriate shoes for high-impact activities/sports – Wear shoes that provide adequate support for the activity you are doing;
• Strengthening leg muscles through exercise/stretching routines – Strong leg muscles help support your bones and protect them from overuse injuries;
• Treating flat feet or high arches with orthotic inserts or custom shoe insoles – Orthotics can help correct foot alignment issues that put extra strain on the tibia bone;
Treatment Options for Shin Splints
If you do experience pain due to MTSS, there are several treatment options available:
Resting from the aggravating activity or sport – Allow yourself time away from activities that cause discomfort for your injury to heal properly;
Ice and compression therapy – Applying ice packs and wearing compression garments may reduce swelling and pain in the affected area;
Anti-inflammatory medications – Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen can be taken orally or applied topically in order to reduce inflammation;
Physical therapies such as massage, ultrasound therapy, and stretching exercises
Radial Shockwave therapy – this can significantly expedite recovery
Shin splints can be painful but it doesn’t have to keep you sidelined if you take proper precautions when engaging in physical activities. Understanding how MTSS occurs, what its symptoms are, and how it is diagnosed can go a long way toward preventing this injury from occurring in the first place. And if you do experience shin splints there are plenty of treatments available ranging from restful periods away from physical activities up to physical therapies aimed at strengthening leg muscles supporting bones like the tibia. With proper care and preventive measures taken athletes of all kinds should
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Disclaimer: Any information provided in this blog is not intended to replace medical advice given by qualified professionals.