Shin splints is a collective term that describes stress fracture(s) in the shin bone. The shin bone is between the knee and ankle. The most common form of shin splints is called medial tibial stress syndrome (MTSS). In healthy bone, shin splints come about due to overtraining. This is typical in runners and jumping athletes. With excessive or inappropriate training, bone cannot heal fast enough between each exercise session. Over time the bone breaks down, causing shin splints.
The term shin splint is sometimes misused to describe tight calf muscles and tight muscles along the front of the shinbones. It can also be mistaken for a calf strain or calf pain. These issues are not shin splints and are treated differently.
The most common cause of shin splints in healthy bone is through overuse and excessive training. This is common in runners and jumping sports such as netball and basketball. Conditions that weaken bones such as osteoporosis make stress fractures more common.
Shin splint typically cause pain that comes on gradually. This pain is usually located on the inside of the shinbone. Bumps and swelling can also appear along the inside of the bone. Redness and inflammation can appear in more severe cases.
Treatment is focused on reducing pain and inflammation. In most cases, the essential treatment for shin splints is an appropriate training/ rehabilitation program. Load management advice is the cornerstone of a good sports chiropractic or physiotherapy program.