Shin splints are usually caused by “regular overuse” of the shin bones. Shin bone or tibia is the larger bone in your lower leg. Due to overuse, the muscles that tightly hold the shine bones to the surrounding structures start to degenerate. As a result, the bones will start to slide away out of place and result in inflammation and pain in the lower leg. In other words, shin splints are the result of injuries to the tendons that hold the shin bone and surrounding muscles together.
What causes onset of shin splints?
Sometimes, sudden changes in exercise regimen may invoke shin splint. Of course, it will happen only when the athlete was engaged in rigorous exercise programs for a long time to substantially invoke “regular overuse.” If you are a football player, playing with shoes that are worn out and slippery may result in shin splints. Constantly changing the running speed, length, and style could be the causative factors in sprinters.
What are the symptoms of shin splints?
If you happen to suffer shin splint, you will start to develop redness and swelling immediately. You may also start to feel aching pain all over the lower leg. Further physical activities will worsen the condition and amplify the pain. However, the pain may seem to decrease with appropriate resting. You may also experience increased pain in the mornings when you first get up from bed.
How is a shin splint diagnosed?
Once you visit Happy Physio, our trained physios will evaluate your medical history and do a physical examination. The physio may be interested in knowing your exercises and training patterns and any recent changes in these patterns. The tibialis muscle, the main culprit behind shin splints, tends to shrink to the minimum when not in activity. Our physio might try to stretch this muscle in order to diagnose the origin of pain on points where the muscle attaches. Depending upon the severity of your condition you may be referred for conservative physiotherapy or surgery and postsurgical rehabilitation. However, surgeries are required only in extreme cases.
How is shin splints treated with physiotherapy?
The immediate aim of our physios, if you are here with shin splints, would be to reduce the pain and swelling and bring you back to physical comfort. Using resting and icing, our physio will try to bring down the pain and swelling over the next few days. Sometimes additional techniques such as ultrasound may be used to alleviate the pain. Once we start to notice some improvement with the pain and inflammation, we will examine your gait and posture to see if there any modifications to be made. If required, foot wears with custom-designed heel wedges may be recommended for you to correct imbalances. Once your pain starts to recede, our physio will advise you a step-by-step action plan to help you return to active sports.
During your physiotherapy period, it is essential that you refrain from physical activities and take rest as recommended. Resting needs to be continued for at least 4-6 weeks or as recommended by the physio.
How is physiotherapy after surgery different?
As you might expect, you would be on crutches during the initial days after your surgery. Surgical dressing that cover up your incisions and stitches would be removed within 10-14 days of your surgery. You will receive some training as to how to move around using crutches during this period. Once the pain starts to recede, you may start on a jogging program assisted by our physios. Full recovery is expected within 2-3 months and sometimes it may take more time.
Call Happy Physio now at (08) 9272 7359 and book an appointment with one of our expert physios.