Foot & Ankle Injury Rehabilitation (Gr)

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Shin Splints

Shin pain is a common injury in many running based sports, e.g. basketball, netball, football.

It is characterised by pain in and around the tibia (shin bone) in the lower leg and usually occurs as a result of a sudden increase in the frequency, duration and/or intensity of activity

Common Causes• Abnormal biomechanics – overpronation, tibial malalignment

  • Training methods – inappropriate increases in the intensity, duration or frequency of exercise.
  • Training surfaces – running on hard surfaces or uneven ground.
  • Footwear – wearing inappropriate footwear for the activity or worn out shoes.
  • Poor flexibility, muscle imbalance or inadequate strength – affecting muscles of the lower limb.

There are three main types of shin pain.

Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome

A change in the amount or type of activity may lead to the muscles of the lower leg pulling on the lining of the tibia. Pain presents along the front and/or inside of the tibia. It may be painful to touch and vary in intensity. Pain will be present as activity begins but is likely to decrease as you warm up. Pain is generally worse in the morning and after exercise.

Stress Fracture

This fracture is an overuse injury that occurs as a result of repeated stress to the bone causing a small fracture. Pain is more localised to an area along the front of the tibia, but usually near the middle. It is normally constant pain that increases with exercise. The pain develops suddenly and is sharp in nature. May be too painful to exercise.

Compartment Syndrome

Cause: In the lower leg there are a number of muscle compartments, which are muscles contained within a lining called a fascial sheath. As a result of overuse/inflammation or a direct impact injury, these muscle compartments may become swollen and painful.

Pain along the front and/or inside of the tibia and in the muscles at the front of the lower leg. Pain usually increases as activity begins and decreases when it stops. The muscles affected may feel weak or numb. The sensation of pins and needles may also be a feature, and this requires urgent medical attention

Like most overuse injuries, shin pain may develop gradually over a period of time. Often the early signs are ignored and those experiencing the symptoms continue the activities causing their problem. Early assessment and treatment of shin pain can make a significant difference, and can prevent this problem before it becomes severe.