Shin Splints (Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome)

What is shin splints?

Shin splints is a common issue in people that run, especially in patients that suddenly increase their physical activity. Shin splint pain is localized the the medial part of the tibia where the muscles of anterior compartment originate. The pain is typically only during exercise and resolves with rest. 

What  causes shin splints?

The cause of shin splints is thought to be a traction induced inflammation of the periosteum caused by muscle forces or forces sent through the deep crural fascia, repetitive incidence of the muscle or fascia pulling on the periosteum, or the connective tissue that covers the long bones in the body and/or related to bone remodeling failure such as a stress reaction/fracture.    

How to diagnose shin splints?

Shin splints is a clinical diagnose with pain and tenderness to the tibia, also subjective pain with exercise. Some risk factors for development of shin splints are flat feet, high BMI, and tight achilles. Your doctor will likely order Xrays/MRIs  to rule out a stress fracture. Shin splints can be similar to exertional compartment syndrome due to pain with exercise, but typically shin splints doesn’t have the component of sensory and/or motor loss. 

How to treat shin splints?

Conservative treatment is always done first with activity modification and decreasing activity by 50% at the time and to gradually increase it by 10% per week, appropriate shoe gear and orthotics is recommended, stretching/physical therapy, NSAIDs, ICE, phonophoresis, and shockwave. If pain persists with conservative treatment that surgery can be considered with release of compartment and removal of painful periosteum. 

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