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Physical therapy for shin splints

What is shin splints?

Also known as medial tibial stress syndrome (MTSS), shin splints is a condition that causes pain in the lower leg, between the knee and ankle. MTSS is the result of cumulative stress on the shin bones and the surrounding tissue. Excessive pressure on the shin bone causes the lower leg muscles to swell, resulting in inflammation and pain.

The condition is most likely to occur in patients who engage in moderate to heavy physical activity like running. While shin splints can sometimes resolve on its own with rest, it may develop into a stress fracture or complete fracture if the body isn’t given sufficient downtime to recover.

Source: Healthline

Shin splints symptoms

Shin splints is characterized by a dull ache along the front of the lower leg, also known as the tibia. When it first presents, the condition may only flare up during exercise. Over time and without proper treatment, however, the associated pain may persist even when the patient is resting.

If this begins to occur, or if the pain is severe, the shin feels hot, or the shin is visibly swollen, the patient should consult with a doctor as soon as possible.

The most common symptoms of shin splints includes:

  • Dull ache in the shin
  • Shin pain during exercise
  • Muscle pain in the lower legs
  • Mild swelling or soreness in the lower leg

Source: Healthline

What causes shin splints?

Shin splints is most commonly associated with activities that cause repetitive stress to the shinbone, especially if the increase in activity is sudden. This stress causes inflammation of the connective tissue surrounding the tibia, which leads to pain and discomfort. Tibial injuries such as tendinopathy and periosteal remodeling may also cause shin splints.

There are several risk factors that can make a patient more susceptible to developing shin splints. One major risk factor is overpronation; patients whose feet move downward and inward when they walk are at greater risk of shin splints. Flat feet, tight calf muscles, high arches, a tight Achilles tendon, activities on uneven ground, or poorly-fitted shoes can also contribute to shin splints.

The most common causes of shin splints include:

  • Repeated stress on the shinbone
  • Tibial injuries
  • Overpronation
  • Flat feet or high arches
  • A sudden increase in activity
  • Tight calf muscles or Achilles tendon

Source: Medical News Today

Physical therapy for shin splints

When rest and downtime prove ineffective, physical therapy is often recommended. A physical therapist will first work with a patient to identify and address the risk factors that may have contributed to the condition. The therapist will then design a treatment plan tailored to the patient’s specific needs.

Treatment programs will likely include rest, hands-on massage, gentle stretching exercises, and exercises to increase the strength of the feet and muscles around the shins. A physical therapist can also provide suggestions for modified exercises and more supportive footwear, which can prevent a recurrence of the condition.

Source: Move Forward PT

The best physical therapists across
the Bay Area, Los Angeles, and Orange County

Luna’s talented roster of physical therapists have the experience and expertise necessary to help patients suffering from shin splints return to the activities they love — as quickly and as fully as possible. Our licensed PTs will work with you to create a personalized course of treatment, using techniques that target and alleviate symptoms while helping to prevent the condition from progressing.

What’s more, with Luna, patients can receive treatment for shin splints right from the comfort of home. It’s physical therapy, delivered.

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