February 6, 2019, by Charlotte Gauja

Shin splints- the name itself is enough to strike fear into any athlete- but what is it?

Most people who have experienced pain down their shins are likely to either self-diagnose or be told by their GP that they have shin splints, but this is a very vague umbrella term, and can encompass a number of different causes.  The term “shin splints”, or “exercise induced leg pain,” can be broken down into a number or different diagnoses, such as

  • medial tibial stress syndrome (muscular and very common)
  • compartment syndrome (lack of space in the leg ‘compartment’ for the muscle to expand – less common)
  • Stress fractures (small crack in the tibia – less common).

Unfortunately shin pain can be a very awkward and stubborn problem and can take some time to fully resolve.  This doesn’t mean there is something seriously wrong, but it is the nature of the condition that it can take a while to fully resolve, and in the athletic population, can take some careful management.

Here at the Sports Injury Clinic, shin pain is one of the most common conditions that we see.  If you have shin pain, first of all try self-managing it with painkillers, ice, and activity modification.  If there is no improvement, then coming into the clinic for a full assessment to determine which sort of “shin splints” you have would be advised.  Depending on the possible causes, we will determine whether it can be self-managed, managed with physiotherapy or requires further investigations such as an x-ray or a referral to see a sports medicine consultant.  It could be that you have simply increased your exercise levels too quickly and caused some overload, or there could be something more serious underlying, such as a stress fracture.  If in doubt, a full assessment is always worthwhile.

If you have been experiencing discomfort down your shins and would like an expert opinion, book an appointment at one of our Sports Injury Clinic’s today.

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