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Shin Splints: Treatment, Procedure, Cost and Side Effects

Last Updated: Jul 05, 2024

What is the treatment?

Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome

How is the treatment done?

Shin splints, also called Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome refers to pains occurring below the knee either on the outer frontal part of the shin, or in the inner back calf muscles. When occurring on the frontal part of the leg, it is called anterior shin splint, and when occurring on the inside, it is called medial shin splint. Shin splints are most commonly seen in athletes, dancers, footballers, etc. who are involved in a lot of leg exercises.

Shin splints are caused due to a number of factors. The most common is overpronation or overexertion which is very commonly seen in athletes who try to improve their running performance too quickly or start running on a hilly tract from a plain one. Other causes for shin splints include lack of adequate stretching before exercising or running, wearing old worn out shoes, improper running gait that causes one leg to be stressed more than the other, etc. Running daily on the same track can also cause shin splints.

Treatment for shin splints include some simple and easy to do exercises for the lower leg, elastic wraps, and medication only in rare cases. Regular stretching for the leg muscles is also advised.

Who is eligible for the treatment? (When is the treatment done?)

Treatment for shin splints principally involves complete rest for a period of about three to six weeks to let the stretched muscles heal. Simple stretching exercises are advised. One of them involves kneeling on a mat on the floor and slowly sitting back on the calves while keeping the legs together and toes flat and pointed back. Once the shin muscles feel tensed, the position is to be held for 10 seconds, relaxed, and repeated. Another exercise involves sitting down on a chair and tracing the outlines of the alphabets on the floor with the toes. Another exercise is walking at a normal pace regularly for 30 seconds, followed by walking on the heels for another 30 seconds. These are also good preventive exercises.

Ice pack may be applied on the inflamed muscle groups and pain relieving ointments also help. Wrapping the lower leg in elastic bandages help to keep the tendons close to the muscles and prevents stress.

Who is not eligible for the treatment?

Athletes, runners, footballers, dancers, and others who regularly use the leg muscles in high intensity work may be prone to develop shin splints. Runners who do not stretch adequately before a run are very vulnerable and may be eligible for treatment. Wearing worn out shoes and running on hard terrain also contribute to the condition and make people eligible for treatment.


Are there any side effects?

Other conditions affecting the lower leg are sometimes mistakenly diagnosed as shin splints. Pains on the outside of the leg can be a symptom of compartment syndrome which is treated very differently. Lower leg pain can also be due to a far more serious injury, a stress fracture in the bone. People affected by these are not eligible for shin splint treatments.

What are the post-treatment guidelines?

There are no side effects to the treatments for shin splints.

How long does it take to recover?

Once treatment is complete and the pain is resolved, it is advised to start working out slowly and build up performance over a period of time. Stretching is always advised before any high intensity leg exercise. Proper shoes need to be worn, and it is advisable to replace them every few months. Suddenly changing the type of running track from plain to hilly is not advised. Preventive exercises that gently stretch the calf muscles and the Achilles tendon need to be repeated at least three to four times a day.

What is the price of the treatment in India?

Treatment brings the pain of shin splints down usually within three to six weeks.

Are the results of the treatment permanent?

Treatment for shin splints is very cheap, with elastic bandages starting from Rs.50.

What are the alternatives to the treatment?

Shin splints do not recur if regular care is taken and adequate preventive measures are adopted, including regular stretching, wearing proper gear, etc. A slight chance of recurrence always remains as shin splints are caused by overexertion of muscles and tendons, which is a very common possibility in sports.

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Written ByDr. E. Logesh MSPT (Master of Physical Therapy),BPTh/BPTPhysiotherapy
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