Shin Splints

Shin splints pain

Last Updated December 20th, 2021

Overview of shin splints

The global estimates of the World Health Organization (WHO) suggest that nearly 50% of the current world population suffers from musculoskeletal disorders. A large percentage of these diseases result from sports injuries and general overuse injuries. Professional athletes, sportspersons, gym goers and aerobic dancers are the main vulnerable groups of these categories of musculoskeletal disorders. “Shin splints” is perhaps the most widespread sports-related injury. It accounts for about 10.7% injuries in male athletes and about 16.8% injuries in female athletes. In the long term, it not only affects performance but also has adverse effects on the general health of a person.

 

What are shin splints?

Shin splints injuryShin splints or “Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome” is a ballistic sports injury in which inflammation and damage of the shin bone (lower leg bone) occur.

The pain is mainly felt at the inner edge of the shin bone (tibia). Shin splints mainly arise from rigorous sports activities on a regular basis that damages the muscles, tendons, and ligaments present in the lower leg.

Two sets of muscles actively contribute to shin splints. These are the anterior tibialis muscle (present at the front of the shin) and the posterior tibialis muscle (present at the back of the shin). The inflammation and soreness mainly occur at the frontal portion of the shin or on the inner side of the lower leg. Female athletes are more likely to suffer from shin splints than the male athletes of the same age.

 

Under what conditions do shin splints occur?

Shin splints occur under the three main conditions-

  • Stress fracture: A hairline fracture occurs in either the tibia or the fibula.
  • Medial stress syndrome: Inflammation of the muscles that attach to the inner side of the tibia occurs.
  • Compartment syndrome: Pain and inflammation in the anterior compartment muscles occur.

 

What causes shin splints?

Shin splints occur due to a number of factors. The important ones are listed below-

  • Overuse injury of the muscles and bone tissues (periosteum)
  • Structural defects like having a flat foot (pes planus), very high arches (pes cavas) or very tight Achilles tendon
  • Over-pronation (drawing the foot inwards beyond a limit) during any sports activity
  • Overload on the outer leg due to improper leg movement
  • Differences in leg lengths
  • Poor stability of the ankles
  • Muscle weakness
  • A muscular imbalance between the calf muscles and the anterior shin muscles
  • Poor muscle flexibility
  • Wear and tear of muscle fibers due to excessive stress and traction force at the muscle-bone interface
  • A porosity of bones due to loss of minerals (due to aging)
  • Having diseases like arthritis, snapping hip syndrome or foot problems
  • Hormonal fluctuations during pregnancy, menopause or menstruation
  • Past injuries or surgeries
  • An abrupt increase in the intensity of muscular activities
  • Defective footwear
  • Running or training on extremely hard, uneven and rough surfaces (Eg: Concrete)
  • Faulty training techniques
  • Excessive sprinting or running on inclined planes

 

What are the symptoms of shin splints?

Shin splintsThe following symptoms make shin splints easily identifiable-

  • Pain, inflammation, and swelling in the frontal part of the lower leg
  • Soreness, warmth, and tenderness of the shinbone
  • Pain on the exterior portion of the lower leg (due to fractures of the tubula)
  • Pain and soreness along the lateral length of the shinbone (in medial tibial stress syndrome)
  • Muscular pain (due to compartment syndrome)
  • Weakness, numbness, and coldness of the foot (due to the irritation of the nerves and blood vessels)
  • Increase in muscular resistance and stiffness during movements
  • Localised bruising and swelling
  • Redness and tenderness on the inner part of the shin
  • Formation of lumps on the lower leg (occasional)
  • Limited motion of the legs

 

Grades of pain in shin splints

Patients suffering from shin splints suffer from the following grades of pain-

  • Grade I: Pain usually occurs after some activities. The common locations are the calf and the shin.
  • Grade II: Pain does not occur during an activity. Pre-activity or post-activity pain occurs, but it does not impact the performance.
  • Grade III: In this case, degradation of performance occurs due to pain occurring before, during and after activities.
  • Grade IV: Severe pain occurs that prevents the person from taking part in any activity or training.

 

What are the different types of shin splints?

Shin splints can be classified into a few types based on the part of the lower leg affected and the intensity of pain. The first classification is discussed below-

  • Anterior shin splints: Here, pain usually occurs at the frontal part of the shin. The pain worsens when the person tries to lift his/her toe, keeping the heel in a steady position.
  • Posterior shin splints: In this condition, the pain occurs medially on the inner edge of the shin bone.

Another classification of shin injuries is given below-

  • Medial tibial stress syndrome: It is usually asymmetric injury syndrome, that is, if the pain starts in one leg, the other leg also gets affected shortly after. The pain usually occurs on the inner sides of the shin and runs along the lateral length of the lower leg.
  • Anterior tibialis tendonitis: Pain occurs in the anterior tibialis muscles and is felt at the outer edge of the shin bone. Inflammation of the tendons occurs. The symptoms worsen on repetitive motion and overuse stress.
  • Tibial stress fracture: The pain is concentrated at a particular point and occurs directly on the shin bone. It is usually absent when the person is not performing any physical activity.

 

Diagnosis

The following diagnostic techniques are recommended for the shin splints patients-

  • X-ray
  • Bone scan (CT scan or MRI)
  • Ultrasound scan
  • Digital radiography

 

Treatment & Prevention

Shin splints painThere are mainly two options to look into if you are seeking treatment for shin splints. These are :

  • Home remedies: Firstly, take a break from all physical activities and allow your body to rest.  Limit the amount of physical exertion.  One should keep the affected leg elevated and use ice-packs to heal the swelling.  OTC painkillers can be taken to obtain relief from the pain. Wearing elastic compression bandages will also help.  Use a foam roller to gently massage the shin area.
  • Surgery: Though it is rare, surgical intervention might be required in certain cases if the pain is severe and persists for months. The surgery performed in such cases is known as a fasciotomy as it involves making incisions around the fascia tissues.

Prevention of shin splints can be done by:

  • Instead of getting into an intensive physical workout suddenly, one should start slow and gradually build up the speed and stamina.
  • Add few sessions of cross-training instead of being limited to only running or jogging.
  • Follow the correct gait while standing and running to prevent such injuries.
  • Wear good quality supportive footwear that provides adequate support to the calf muscles.
  • Seek immediate medical attention when you experience any type of pain along calf muscles.

Facts

  • The medical terminology for shin splints is medial tibial stress syndrome.
  • Wearing ill-fitting shoes and walking/ running on uneven surfaces can trigger this kind of pain.

Facts

  • Regular runners should buy new footwear for every 400 miles they run on one pair of shoes.
  • Both, flat-footedness and having too high arches on feet can cause shin splints.

Facts

  • Gait correction can also help with attaining relief from the pain. Gait analysis involves in understanding whether one is over-pronating or under-pronating while walking.
  • It is one of the most common sports injuries and often accompanies when one changes or intensifies physical routines.

Related Conditions

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Dos and Don'ts

Dos
  • If you are a regular runner prefer running on soft grassy fields instead of running on hard pavements.
  • Stretch your calf muscles prior to running or exercising. Have proper warm-up and cool-down routine in order to reduce ligament damage.
Don'ts
  • Try to push through the pain. This will worsen the condition and may also cause further painful complications.
  • Wear ill-fitting and/or worn out sports foot wear. Regularly change your sunning shoes.

 

 

 

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Power up your gut: 8 proven steps on how to improve your digestion Did you know you have a colony of bacteria in your gut that help you in digesting food?…
low fodmap plan
Troubled with IBS? Here’s a complete roadmap to the low FODMAP diet Leaky & inflammatory gut troubling you? No medicine bringing you relief from the pain? Why not try the…
Kava: Is it the healthy substitute for alcohol you have been waiting for? Native to the beautiful South Pacific islands, Kava is a famous beverage rooted in the local culture. It…
Psyllium Husk: More than just an effective natural laxative Psyllium husk, or isabgol, is a popular natural laxative . But did you in addition to regulating bowels,…
Find all the instant ways to get rid of blackheads Blackheads - Not only are they aesthetically unappealing but if left untreated these can cause bacterial overgrowth on…
Ear pain model
Easy and safe tips for ear wax removal you can do at home Cerumen impaction generally occurs when an external object like cotton swabs are used to remove the ear wax.…
Atkins diet weight loss
Atkins Diet: The right steps to carb control that can help you lose those pounds fast The Atkins diet is a high fat, low-carb diet with proven weight loss benefits that is flexible enough…
Chest X-Ray A chest x-ray is a diagnostic test that uses x-rays to visualize the structures inside your chest. It…
blood elements analysis
Blood Element Analysis Test A blood element analysis is a blood test performed to measure the level of toxic elements such as…
PROGESTERONE_test
Progesterone test The progesterone test is a blood test used to determine the level of hormone progesterone in the blood…
iron deficiency profile
Iron Deficiency Profile An iron deficiency profile is a battery of blood tests which are performed in order to determine the…
Okra: How can this nutrient-dense vegetable help you fight diabetes? Okra is a food which is rich in nutrients and minerals which are extremely essential for a healthy…
dance health benefits
5 unbelievable effects of dance on your overall health! You enjoy dancing, but did you know what else it does to your body? Dancing is not only…
Jack in the box fast food
Jack In the Box : The perils of surging fast food culture in the USA Jack in the Box - How a culture of fast-food can clog your arteries, weaken your heart, fatten…
black seed oil benefits
Black Seed Oil: What secret benefits could it bestow on your health? Black seeds or nigella seeds are tiny packets of health brimming with amazing benefits. Find out why should…
Oil of Oregano: The one-stop essential oil you’ve been looking for Are you plagued by a weak immune system? High body inflammation accompanied by pain and infections? Why not…
Epley maneuver: Why is this the best protection from the symptoms of vertigo? Epley maneuver is an exercise that can treat the symptoms of benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV).  It was…
Tart Cherry: The healthiest excuse for taking that second serving of pie Tart cherry has been traditionally used in delectable desserts such as pies. Recent studies have revealed that its…
Hydroquinone: Is it the best topical treatment for hyperpigmentation? Darkening of the skin due to high melanin levels is called hyperpigmentation.  Hydroquinone interferes with melanin production thus treating…
Inversion Therapy: The anti-gravity way of healing chronic back pain Inversion therapy involves suspending a person upside dow using different types of equipment. This works by taking the…
The Cabbage Soup Diet: The healthiest way to instant weight loss Cabbage soup diet rapid weight loss diet for those who want to shed those extra pounds in less…
Coffee Enema: Turn your favorite morning beverage into a powerful colon cleanser The wonders of coffee are not just limited to waking you up every morning. You can now use…
CBC blood test
CBC (Hemogram 6-part diff) blood test CBC (Hemogram 6-part diff) blood test refers to the test that measures the number of RBCs, WBCs, etc…
reflexology massage
Top reasons why you should go for a reflexology massage today Reflexology involves the application of pressure to your feet and hands to encourage self-healing. Could this be beneficial…
Bone marrow aspiration Bone marrow aspiration is a process where a sample of the bone marrow is withdrawn from the bone…
C-Reactive Protein Test A CRP or c-reactive protein blood test is an important diagnostic tool used to determine the risk of…
HSV-1_IGG
Herpes Simplex Virus I (HSV)-IgG Test Herpes simplex virus I(HSV)-IgG is an Immunoglobulin protein that acts as an antibody & stays in the blood…
malarial antigen test
Malaria Antigen Test A malaria antigen test is a rapid diagnostic test (RDT) that can detect malarial antigens (proteins) in your…
lipase test
Lipase Test A lipase test is a blood test performed to quantitatively measure the level of the enzyme lipase in…
Squid-ink-spaghetti
Squid Ink: A unique food coloring and flavoring agent Want to add a unique black color to your pasta, noodles and ice-creams? How can you use squid…
Squid-ink-spaghetti
Squid Ink: A unique food coloring and flavoring agent Want to add a unique black color to your pasta, noodles and ice-creams? How can you use squid…
Squid-ink-spaghetti
Squid Ink: A unique food coloring and flavoring agent Want to add a unique black color to your pasta, noodles and ice-creams? How can you use squid…
Sushi: health benefits and recipes Sushi is a traditional Japanese dish prepared with vinegared rice served with fish (often raw), vegetables, and other…
hidden benefits walking
9 benefits of walking we bet you didn’t know! Did you know walking can be the miracle pill for eternal youth? Everyone knows walking is good for…