Shin splints is simply a layman's term for any pain felt in the lower leg, but particularly around the front of the shin bone, it may also be referred to as Exercise Induced Leg Pain. Shin splints can be due to several different conditions and it is important to make a diagnosis between those various conditions.
Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome and other causes of lower leg pain are an over-use syndrome. As all the muscles of the lower leg insert into the foot, there is distinct link between mechanical imbalances of the foot and the onset of shin pain. Factors such as altered foot, knee and hip mechanics and posture, can make anyone susceptible to the syndrome, but people who do high impact sports such as running, football, tennis, squash and even people who walk long distances can be affected.
The common conditions responsible for shin splints are Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome, Stress Fractures and Compartment Syndrome. In order to make an accurate diagnosis we use Digital Video Gait Analysis combining with a Biomechanical Assessment to identify any mechanical factors that may be a causative factor. Sometimes it may be necessary for further investigations such bone scans or x-rays to be made, for which we will make the appropriate referral.
Muscle imbalances combined with abnormal biomechanics, most commonly, over-pronation of the foot, respond well to conservative methods of treatment. This will involve a combination of strengthening and stretching of certain muscle groups, together with reducing the amount of over-pronation. This is done with the use of functional foot orthoses and may sometimes require the possibility of a change of footwear type to optimise recovery.