Shin splints – What’s the cause?

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Have you ever had that feeling of agony across the front of your shin when exercising? Well this pain is the shin splints and it is important to understand that this is a symptom, not a condition.

Shin splints are painful and can be very limiting, causing you to have trouble during exercise. As shin splints are a symptom their underlying cause could be

  1. Poor muscle function in the lower leg, this is the most common cause and easily fixed.
  2. Stress fracture, which we happen to see a few each year and the key characteristic of this is a single focal point of pain. If suspected, an X-ray can confirm the diagnosis and rest is required for a few weeks.
  3. Less uncommon is induced compartment syndrome where pressure increases in the muscles, causing a lack of blood supply therefore causing swelling and pain.

The symptom of this symptom, is an aching dull pain in your shin.

You may find you only experience this pain when they are exercising or playing sport, while others experience it after exercising and in some cases the pain is constantly present.

The pain can be felt along one or in both sides of the shin bone and in other cases it is felt in the muscles and may be painful when touched.

Due to the differing causes of shin splints, different treatment approaches are required.

  • markland-clinic-7029Initially it is essential to rule out stress fractures and compartment syndrome.
  • Assuming they have been eliminated as the source of pain then biomechanics and muscle function is assessed and usually some dysfunction in the lower leg is found.
  • It is important to check ankle and knee range of movement non weight bearing, ankle and knee range of movement weight bearing doing squats, single knee dips, and calf raises.
  • Quality of movement, range and control are all important. There is usually some weakness or limitation in one or more of these.

Rest alone is rarely enough, as it does not address the dysfunction that causes the pain and until the weakness is identified and rehabilitated the pain will continue.

If your shin splint pain doesn’t subside, you should really have this checked out by a professional. You can always speak to a physio here at our Clinic. Simply get in touch with us here: PHYSIO

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