Medial tibial stress syndrome (MTSS—Shin Splint) is pain around the tibia or shin bone due to inflammation of the tendons, muscles, and bone tissue. It often occurs with exercise or while playing sports do to vigorous physical activity. Runners and dancers are highest risk for developing shin splints.
Common causes of shin splints are overuse from repetitive sports activities or a sudden change in the extent of physical activity. Flat feet or rigid foot arches and the use of inappropriate or worn-out footwear while exercising may increase the risk of developing shin splints.
Diagnosis and Symptoms
Shin Splints are diagnosed through physical examination of the lower leg, Symptoms include sharp or dull pain in the front side of the lower leg, Pain may be throbbing or sore to touch and associated with mild swelling. Imaging test such as x-ray or MRI may also be ordered to rule out other causes of pain and confirm the diagnosis.
Treatment for shin splints consists of non-surgical procedures including:
- Rest: Ensure adequate rest and avoid activities that cause pain. Instead perform low-impact exercises, such as swimming or stationary bicycling.
- Medication: The doctor may prescribe non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication to reduce pain and swelling.
- Ice: Apply ice packs wrapped in a cloth on the affected area for 15-20 minutes, four times a day for several days. Never place ice directly over the skin.
- Compression: Wrap the leg in an elastic bandage to reduce swelling.
- Physical Therapy: Perform stretching and flexibility exercises to reduce pain and improve muscle strength.
- Supportive shoes: Wear shoes that provide good cushioning and support the feet to reduce stress on the shin bone.
- Orthotics: Shin splits and shoe inserts may be helpful.
Surgical treatment is an option considered only in very severe cases when the conservative methods fail to relieve pain.