Do you Suffer from Anterior Shin Pain?
Shin pain is a common complaint among athletes, particular in distance runners. The term ‘shin splints’ is a commonly used by runners as a non-descript reference regarding their leg pain. There are anumber of causes of anterior shin pathology which stresses the importance of a more accurate diagnosis so treatment is more specific. The patient complains of ‘shin splints’ usually around the inside of the lower leg after a long distance run or a sport which requires a lot of running.
Causes of anterior shin pain include bone stress or fracture where there is increased bone damage over a prolonged period, vascular insufficiency where a reduction in blood flow to the area owing to elevated compartmental pressures. Also, inflammation developing at muscles insertions on the inside of the lower leg tends to be quite common.
An individuals Biomechanics or body alignment can predispose them to pain on the anterior or inside border of the lower leg. For example a rigid foot has limited shock absorption, thus increasing the impact pressure on the lower leg causing shin pain while athletes with feet that over pronate or fall in during walking puts a stretch on superficial and deep muscles and contract harder and longer causing pain. Tight calfs from a lot of running also restrict movement of the ankle and increase the tendency for the foot to fall in during walking.
The physiotherapist will gain a full history from the patient and exam lower limb biomechanics which may be influencing the complaint. Also we will look at ankle movements, strength, functional tests and special ankle tests to enhance our understanding of your complaint.
The foundation of physiotherapy treatment is based on symptom relief, identifys risk factors and treats the underlying cause. This usually begins with rest, ice and anti inflammatory medication while switching the patient to a pain free activity such as cycling or swimming, which will keep the athlete active.
In the long term, the most effective treatment is based on proper assessment of the individuals foot alignment or mechanics and permanent relief through appropriate foot wear and foot orthoses that acts as a shock absorber and supports the arch. Other treatment may involve calf muscle stretching and trigger point therapy for tight areas.
Anterior shin pain is a very common and restrictive complaint among experienced and new athlete’s. However, with proper assessment and rehabilitation it is treatable with good outcomes and a return to sport.