Shin splints are often caused by running and jumping sports but can develop in activities as harmless as walking, particularly when accompanied by an increase or change in activity level. The pain will often emerge along the length of the tibia, but can also be located in a small isolated area of the leg.
This pain is a result of the leg muscles getting overloaded, which increases the stress on the tibia where the muscles attach. The two main areas that suffer with shin splints are the inside of the tibia (Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome) and the front of the shin (Anterior Tibial Stress Syndrome).
If we could peel back your skin and look directly at the muscles of the leg, you would see that all of the muscles attached to your tibia attach to your foot. When the foot or leg is moving in an abnormal way, the stress these leg muscles are under increases greatly. This stress can result in micro-tears of the muscle fibres, the tendon which attaches the muscle to the bone, and in worst case scenarios, can lead to stress fractures of the tibia or compartment syndrome. Either of these will put you out of action for quite some time and may require surgery to repair.
A podiatrist can identify which muscles of your leg are causing pain, without having to peel back your skin. We can determine what is causing the muscle stress by checking your strength and flexibility, looking at your footwear and assessing your gait while you walk or run.
If you develop shin pain you should reduce your activity levels, ice your leg after exercise or use anti-inflammatory medications. If you are still having trouble, come and see us so we can help you get back on your feet.