Shin Splints

Shin splints - sometimes referred to as medial tibial stress syndrome (MTSS) - is the name given to the symptom of pain at the shin bone, located at the front of the lower leg. The pain typically radiates between the knee and the ankle.

The condition can cause people to stop certain activities which may be contributing to the pain. Shin splints is classed as a cumulative stress disorder. Repeated activities which have a high impact on the joints and muscles of the lower legs prevent the body from being able to repair itself.

Causes

The main cause of shin splint is repeated, excessive pressure on the shin bone (tibia), and its surrounding tissues and muscles. This force leads to the muscles swelling and inflammation of the lining of the bone. Another possible cause is a stress fracture to the tibia.

Shin splints generally affect people that are involved in moderate or heavy physical activities. These activities could be work-related, or due to competing in sports such as tennis, basketball and football. Sports which require suddenly stopping and starting or jumping movements are understood to present a higher risk of shin splints. Other risk factors include wearing inadequate footwear or having lack of physical flexibility.

Symptoms

Among the most common symptoms of shin splints are; an ache at the front of the lower leg; pain to the sides of the shin bone; pain which gets gradually worse during exercise; pain, soreness or tenderness along the inner section of the lower leg; foot weakness or numbness; and mild swelling in the lower leg.

Treatment

Shin splits is usually diagnosed via a physical examination, consultation, or imaging tests such as x-ray.

There are several remedies which can be effective in the treatment of shin splints, including; rest (usually around two weeks) from physical activities which are known to make the condition worse; using ice treatment to reduce swelling; keeping legs elevated; over the counter medications such as ibuprofen or naproxen sodium; foam rollers for massage; and wearing compression bandages. Injections of PRP or steroid can often improve recovery times and resolve pain quicker.

If MTSS is associated with chronic exertional compartment syndrome, surgery can be an option. A fasciotomy is a procedure that involves opening the fascia tissue that surrounds the calf muscles, thereby allowing them to have more room to expand which can relieve pain.

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Patient stories

Mr Ajis is a great surgeon, he listens to any concern you may have and explains what is going to happen also gives great care... He suggested a fairly new procedure that wasn't available on the NHS but he pushed me through and he and his team have worked wonders, I am now healing very well and pain-free in my ankle after 6 years!

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Mr Ajis was very informative and reassuring about my surgery. He was professional at all times and allowed time for me to have all my questions answered without feeling rushed.

Written by a patient at BMI Goring Hall Hospital

I saw Mr Ajis after sustaining a fracture of my 5th metatarsal which had not healed after a year. The pain was unbearable. He saw me promptly and took the time to explain my condition with the help of x-ray images with assurances that he could fix the problem. I was advised by other clinicians to be patient and wait for the fracture to heal on its own. Mr Ajis said that healing would be highly unlikely without intervention. After numerous emails and 'phone calls to him he constantly...

...spent the time reassuring me and patiently going over the intended procedure. To date after seeking advice and guidance from Mr Ajis, his secretary and the Physio Team and the insertion of a plate my fracture has united I walk well, without pain and I have joined a walking group. In summary, he is the best foot consultant the South of England can provide. In fact, I travelled from both the IoM and the IW to West Sussex to see him.