Shin splints is a lower leg injury resulting from too much stress to the tibia and its connecting tendons and muscles. The medical term for shin splints is called Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome (MTSS). It refers to tenderness, sharp pain or even a burning sensation around the shin bone. Shin splints symptoms may differ depending on the person and the severity of the injury.
The pain can be located either close to the tibialis anterior muscle (front of the shin bone), and posterior tibialis muscle (medial part of the shin bone). It is estimated that as many as 35% of running related injuries are shin splints.
Shin splints is a common problem for athletes and runners of differing skill levels. It has multiple causes which can be treated in time with a combination of methods that attack the actual cause of the injury.
Common symptoms of shin splints
The intensity of shin splints symptoms can vary greatly. Pain is generally felt during athletic activities and it is the body’s warning signal for something being wrong.
Common symptoms of shin splints are aching, tender and throbbing pain along the inside or front of the shin. Depending on its severity the area will often be sore to touch when poked or pressed. At later stages of the injury, you may feel a burning sensation as the shin gets more inflamed.
When the shin pain is mild and the injury is at its early stages – discomfort may only occur when exercising or applying force to the lower leg. But in later stages of the injury, pain may be constant throughout activity and rest.
In some cases pain may be reduced during the course of activity as the muscles warm up. But as the injury progresses and rehabilitation is not started in time, the pain may become more severe and harder to treat.
Symptoms of anterior and posterior shin splints
In most cases athletes are either experiencing pain in the medial inside part of the shin or at the anterior front. These two types of shin splints symptoms refer to posterior and anterior shin splints.
Experiencing pain when lifting your toes up or dorsiflexing your foot, indicates that you are likely to suffer from anterior shin splints. Many make the mistake of referring shin splints as single condition, while its symptoms and causes may refer to different problems. The definitions of what actually qualifies for shin splints vary depending on the medical source.
Discomfort on the medial inside part of the shin is often a sign of posterior shin splints. Numerous individuals are not aware they shin splints at all, since the pain may only be felt when pressed down on the bone. But in more severe cases the shins may get more inflamed and feel painful even for a light tap of a finger.
For others, the simple task of walking may be painful for the shins, especially on harder surfaces like concrete. Pain may also be felt constantly at night. When attempting to treat the injury, emphasis should be placed on understanding the cause of shin splints, instead of directly trying to attack its symptoms.
Injuries and symptoms similar to shin splints
Not all pain around the shins can be attributed to be shin splints. Doctors often have trouble diagnosing the problem, pain in the shins is just one of the hundreds of common problems they have deal with daily. For proper diagnosis a consultation to orthopedic specialist, podiatrist or specialist physiotherapists may be necessary.
Shin pain may also relate to calf strains, muscle tears, compartment syndrome, tendinopathy, stress fractures, peripheral vascular disease, an infection, other fracture, cancers, DVT venous thrombosis, popliteal artery entrapment, peripheral nerve entrapment. We strongly recommend consulting to a certified health care professional for diagnosing the cause of shin pain.