Why is it necessary to seek treatment of this lower leg condition?
Most of you are aware of where your shin is located it is a very common sight for injury especially amongst those of you that actively engaged in high impact sports, such as running and football. Shin splints if left untreated can be very progressive, painful and easily prevent you from continuing with your chosen sport or activity.
It is important in the early stages of the injury to seek professional medical advice such as a Podiatrist, as to have a really good clear diagnosis as to exactly what structures of the body are injured. This is fundamental to having a really quick outcome to enable you to return to your chosen activity at the earliest opportunity.
What are shin splints?
Shin splints is a general term for a range of conditions between the knee and ankle, it is better described as compartment syndrome, stress fracture, muscle injury or a soft tissue related injury.
What are the compartments involved?
The compartments involved are literally for the front (Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome), back and side of the shin (Anterior, Posterior and Lateral compartment syndrome).
What are the possible causes of Shin Splints?
The possible causes of shin splints are as follows:-
- The muscle attachment is sometimes strained by the ankle excessively rolling inwards known as Pronation.
- Stress Fracture by repetitive loads on the bone.
- Compartment syndrome is normally described as an increase in bulk of the muscle which causes a loss of blood supply to the area. This causes the muscle to be squeezed into its facial compartment. Excessive pain sometimes develops with loss of sensation, cramping and aching of the leg.
The most common cause is by a sudden increase in activity, which causes the muscle to increase in size and bulk, which then becomes too big for its muscle compartment.
Non-surgical Treatments for Shin Splints
- Orthotics Therapy is advised for rebalancing the feet and realigning the whole body. Helping to control problems such as excessive Pronation.
- Temporary taping of the foot, ankle and knee can sometimes help in the early stages of Shin Splints.
- Correct foot wear for your chosen activity is very important. As poor footwear is a common cause of the problem.
- Podiatric medicine to help rehabilitate the injury.
- Home exercises such as a stretching programme and home treatments such as ice to the area daily, which will help to reduce inflammation and rehabilitate the injury.
- Oxyflex for the pain.
- Elastic bandage to help limit formation of swelling in the area.
- Anti-inflammatory medicine to settle any acute inflammation present and pain killers.
- Resting and elevation of the limb to help increase blood supply to the area.
- Cross training such as swimming so that you can continue to exercise during your treatment.
Diagnosis of Shin Splints
It may be necessary for you to be referred for an x-ray in the case of a stress fracture or to have an ultra sound for soft tissue related problems; your Podiatrist or health care professional will advise you if this is the case.