Brief Outline of Medial Tibial Pain Syndrome – Shin Splints
Shin splints are a common complaint of runners and other athletes who have just taken up running. Shin splints are actually a term used to cover all pain in the anterior shin area. There are several possible causes. Medial tibial pain syndrome, the most common cause of shin pain, refers to pain felt over the shin bone from irritation of the tendons that cover the shin and their attachment to the bones. Changes in duration, frequency or intensity of running can lead to this condition.
Anatomy and physiology
The tibialis anterior muscle originates from the lateral condyle of the tibia, and inserts into the medial and plantar surfaces of the medial cuneiform bone. Tibialis anterior is responsible for dorsiflexing and inverting the foot and is used frequently during running to toe up with each step. When the muscle and tendon becomes inflamed and irritated through overuse or improper form, it will cause pain in the front of the shin. Repetitive pounding on the lower leg, such as with running, can also lead to pain in the shin.
Cause of Shin Splints
Repetitive stress on the tibialis anterior muscle leading to inflammation. Repetitive pounding force on the tibia, as with running and jumping.
Signs and symptoms
Dull, aching pain over the inside of the tibia. Pain is worse with activity. Tenderness over the inner side of the tibia with possible slight swelling.
Complications if left Shin Splints unattended
If left unattended, shin splints can cause extreme pain and cause cessation of running activities. The inflammation can lead to other injuries, including compartment syndrome.
- Anti-inflammatory medication
- Shockwave therapy
Rehabilitation and prevention
It is important to use low impact activities, such as swimming or cycling, to maintain conditioning levels while recovering. Stretching of the tibialis anterior muscle will help with recovery. To prevent this condition from developing, try alternating high impact activity days with lower impact days. It is also important to strengthen the muscles of the lower leg to help absorb the shock of impact activities.
Medial tibial pain syndrome can be effectively treated with no long-term effects. Only in rare cases does the condition fail to respond to rest and rehabilitation, leading to chronic inflammation and pain. Surgery may be required in those rare cases.