The most common cause of shin pain is what is most commonly known as shin splints. This condition involves damage and inflammation of the connective tissue joining muscles to the shin bone (tibia).
Several muscles lie deep within the calf and to the side of the tibia within the lower leg. These muscles attach to the inner borders of the tibia via a connective tissue called tenoperiosteum. Every time the calf contracts, it pulls on the connective tissue. When this tension is too forceful or repetitive, damage to the periosteum occurs causing inflammation and pain.
What are the symptoms of shin splints?
Pain is typically experienced along the inner or outer border of the shin. Pain may initially start as a deep ache with occasional sharp pain in the shin region. Pain may increase following activities which places stress on the periosteum such as excessive walking or running. The area of the shin may also become tender to touch. Muscle tightness, thickening or what may appear as bumps along the shin bone may also become present in the painful area.
How can physiotherapy help?
It is important to seek therapy assistance if you suspect you have shin splints. Left untreated, shin splints may lead to debilitating pain and also leaves the potential for stress fractures to occur. Patients with this condition typically heal well with appropriate treatment and rest. The recovery time may range from a few weeks to many months depending on the severity. Physiotherapy treatment can include deep tissue massage, acupuncture, taping, bio-mechanical correction, arch support as well as a safe and gradual return to sport programme incorporating strengthening and stretches for flexibility.