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Shin Splints

Ankle Pain Relief

Shin Splints

Shin splints is a common condition that causes pain in the front of the leg. Physicians refer to this condition as medial tibial stress syndrome (MTSS).

This syndrome is especially prevalent in people who frequently engage in strenuous exercise. Researchers also found that sports with a stop-start pattern increase the risk of shin splints. Examples include soccer, basketball, tennis, and racquetball.

Due to the repetitive stress on the muscles, bones, and joints, micro-injuries will accumulate, leading to shin splints. Unfortunately, the pain can be immobilizing.

On this page, we will discuss the causes, risk factors, and symptoms of shin splints. After that, we will detail the research around chiropractic care and shin splints.

The causes of shin splints

Shin splints are the result of repetitive micro-injuries to the muscles, shinbone, and connective tissues in the area.

Over time, this leads to inflammation and swelling of the muscles, which places extra pressure on the shinbone. In some cases, stress fractures may also be a contributing factor. These fractures begin as small cracks and can worsen over time. The good news is that resting will dampen the inflammation and accelerate your healing journey.

The risk factors of shin splints

As previously mentioned, several factors can contribute to shin splints, including:

  • Flat feet and other structural abnormalities
  • Feeling that the muscles of the leg are weak
  • Limited range of motion of the joints
  • Improper training techniques
  • Running long distances on hard surfaces
  • Running downhill
  • Wearing unsuitable shoes
  • Playing sports that involve frequent a start-stop pattern (e.g., soccer, basketball)

Research demonstrated that shin splints are more likely to occur in people whose leg muscles and tendons are strained. Certain professions that involve high levels of physical activity, such as athletes, military personnel, and dancers, are more prone to developing shin splints due to the repetitive and high-impact nature of their work.

Signs and symptoms of shin splints

When you have shin splints, you may experience the following symptoms:

  • A dull pain in the front of your lower leg
  • Increased pain during physical activity
  • Muscle soreness
  • Tenderness of the lower leg
  • Swelling of the lower leg
  • Weakness and numbness of the feet

In most cases, these symptoms can be managed with home remedies. However, some individuals may experience more severe symptoms, including:

  • Extreme pain along the shin bone (this usually occurs after an injury)
  • A feeling that the shin bone is warm to the touch
  • Visible swelling
  • Pain that persists even when resting

These signs may indicate a more serious complication. Therefore, it is important to seek the help of a chiropractor as soon as possible.

How to diagnose shin splints?

Diagnosing shin splints typically involves taking your medical history and conducting a physical examination. Your practitioner will ask you about the types of physical activity you engage in, as well as their intensity and frequency.

To confirm the diagnosis and rule out other conditions (e.g., fractures, compartment syndrome), your practitioner may also order imaging tests such as X-rays.

When should you see a chiropractor?

The need to visit your chiropractor depends on the severity of your pain and whether you can walk.

Here are some scenarios that make you want to see your chiropractor:

  • Severe pain that does not improve
  • Pain that lasts for several weeks
  • Migrating pain – It moves from one area to another
  • Progressive swelling that involves other areas
  • Warm shinbone – This could be an indication of compartment syndrome

The complications of shin splints

If left untreated, shin splints can lead to a variety of complications.

One possible complication is chronic pain, which can limit your ability to perform daily activities and participate in physical activity. Another possible complication is muscle imbalance, which can put you at risk of future injuries. Shin splints can also lead to stress fractures, which are small breaks in the bone that occur due to repetitive stress.

In some cases, chronic shin splints can precipitate to compartment syndrome. This is a serious condition that occurs when increased pressure inside the muscle compartment deprives your tissues from blood circulation.

How can chiropractic care help with shin splints

Chiropractic care may be beneficial for individuals with shin splints. Typically, the treatment revolves around manual adjustments, soft tissue therapy, and rehabilitation exercises to address any structural imbalances or biomechanical dysfunctions that may be contributing to your condition.

There are studies that show positive results from combining chiropractic care with other treatment methods, such as stretching, strengthening, and physical therapy. For instance, a 2009 study found that after undergoing chiropractic care, patients with shin splints experienced significant improvement in pain, function, and quality of life.

Chiropractic care can also help alleviate specific symptoms associated with shin splints.

Pain – Chiropractors use manual adjustments and soft tissue therapy to relieve pain. A study published in the Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association found that after receiving chiropractic care, patients with shin splints experienced significant improvement in pain.

Swelling – Chiropractors can help with swelling in the shins, according to numerous research sources. A study concluded that a combination of chiropractic care and a home exercise program showed clinical improvement, especially swelling.

Muscle weakness – A study showed that chiropractic care can significantly improve the function of patients with shin splints. This is extremely important since muscle weakness can be a source of disability in patients.

It’s important to note that every individual’s case is unique and the best course of treatment may vary. Consult with your chiropractor to determine how to specifically address your symptoms.

Takeaway message

Shin splints, or medial tibial stress syndrome (MTSS), is a very prevalent condition that leads to pain and immobility. Educating yourself about this condition and how alternative therapies can relieve your symptoms will significantly improve your outcome.

Hopefully, this article managed to explain the role of chiropractic care in the management of shin splints.

If you still have questions about shin splints or how chiropractic care may help you, please feel free to reach out to us via the contact us page!