by Dom Zotto, SPT

Runners experience shin splints

Diagnosis and Treatment for Shinsplints

Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome (MTSS) is the medical term for what is typically referred to as “shin-splints.” MTSS is characterized by pain in the distal posterior-medial aspect of the shin (tibia) measuring approximately 5 cm in length.

How do you get MTSS?

While the exact cause of MTSS is unknown, it is widely accepted that repetitive stress injuries from activities such as runninMedial Tibial Stress Syndrome g or jumping will induce this pain pattern. There are different theories as to why this stress causes these symptoms. One school of thought is the muscles pulling on the bone cause inflammation of the tissue surrounding the bone called the periosteum, leading to periostitis. Another theory is that tiny stress fractures form from the loading causing the pain.

Who gets MTSS?

Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome is most commonly seen in those who perform these repetitive movements. Athletes such as basketball players, runners, and gymnasts, as well as military personnel are populations most commonly diagnosed with MTSS.

How is it diagnosed?

Once stress fracture and compartment syndrome have been ruled out, MTSS can only be diagnosed with a clinical examination, one which a physical therapist is qualified to give. Imaging is an unreliable source for diagnosis as research has shown there is no correlation between imaging and symptoms.

Treatment for Shin Splints

Once MTSS is identified rest and cushioned insoles have been shown to be the most effective course of action. Rest will typically be prescribed for 2 weeks or until pain has subsided. Following the period of rest preventative exercise will be performed to increase the integrity of the arch of the foot, gluteal and core strengthening, and a walking and/or running analysis will be performed.

For more information on lower extremity stress fractures or shinsplints in runners, and how physical therapy can help, contact us for an appointment at any of our locations in Malta, Queensbury, or Clifton Park at 518-289-5242.

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