Shin splints

Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome, commonly known as shin splints, are one of the most common injuries of the lower leg found in athletes. Training errors and faulty biomechanics are most often the cause of shin splints. The treatment and rehabilitation goals for shin splints are to identify and correct the risk factors, alleviate the symptoms and to stimulate healing. A running evaluation may assist in identifying the risk factors.

Research has shown that relative rest is crucial for symptomatic relief. Ice, pain medication and the modification of activities and training is helpful. Applying ice for 15-20 minutes is often effective. Athletes may benefit from using either a walking boot or pneumatic brace for the first two weeks, which may be removed for non-impact cross training. Bony tenderness typically dissipates between four to eight weeks, after which the athlete may begin a gradual return to activity. Return to full activity varies considerably, with the average period for full return to sport at eight to twelve weeks.

Treating the key dysfunctions of the entire kinetic chain using manual therapy and rehabilitative exercises is crucial to improve symptoms and to avoid recurrence. Acupuncture, SSTM and manual therapy may be useful to ensure proper movement of the surrounding joints, to correct dysfunctions, improve symmetry of the body and to decrease pain. A compression sleeve may help for symptomatic relief.

The use of shock absorbing insoles, taping and orthotics controlling excessive pronation is often useful in the treatment of shin splints. The modification of footwear and alternation of running shoes are recommended in the management and prevention of shin splints. It is suggested that running shoes need to be replaced every 320-800 kilometre (depending on the type of shoe).