Shin splints are a common overuse injury that cause pain in the front of the shin bones when you run. Shin splints is actually not a diagnosis, but a general term used to describe any exercise induced pain in the shins. For this blog we will be focussing on one common cause of shin pain, medial tibial stress syndrome (MTSS).
What causes shin splints or medial tibial stress syndrome?
MTSS is most likely caused by a combination of factors that cause repetitive overload of the of the tibia (shin bone). This is common in new runners or runners who have been increasing their training load. Other factors such as biomechanics and muscle weakness also play an important role in this condition developing.
What are the symptoms of medial tibial stress syndrome?
- Shin pain during or after running
- If severe, the pain can also be present with walking or even with rest
- The inside of the tibia (shin bone) will be tender to touch
How is medial tibial stress syndrome diagnosed?
The diagnosis is normally made from a good history taking and clinical examination. When you come into the clinic, we will spend time to understand how your symptoms first presented, what irritates them and what makes them better. We will also try and ascertain whether there were any changes to your training, footwear or running style. Using either 2D video or our state-of-the-art 3D gait analysis, we can begin to truly understand the biomechanics of why you developed the problem in the first place. Where we suspect a stress fracture, we may also arrange for imaging such as an x-ray or scan.
How is medial tibial stress syndrome treated?
In the short term it is important that we manage your training load appropriately. This may mean that we need to reduce your running load or stop it completely. We believe it is very important to keep you training so will always advise other ways you can maintain your conditioning while resting from running. This may include, swimming, cycling or rowing. Resting from running can also be an excellent opportunity to work on your strength and flexibility.
By understanding the mechanism of your injury, we can then put in place a bespoke exercise plan to effectively rehabilitate your problem in the long term. We can also advise on whether orthotics/insoles may help, and advise you what training is best to carry on with, and what best to avoid. The long-term outlook of medial tibial stress syndrome is good, and most people make a full recovery with the correct rehabilitation and training modification.