Shin Splints Advice
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A Stress fracture of the shin is a small hairline-sized crack in the Tibia bone that results in pain on palpation or with impact activities.
A stress fracture of the shin causes acute pain with impact activities such as walking and running over a small area of the shin bone. It is often acutely tender to press on the location of the pain.
Symptoms are typically consistently worse with activity and better with rest, although patients can report a throbbing sensation at rest immediately after activity. There may be some local swelling but rarely bruising associated with a Shin Stress Fracture.
Stress Fractures of the shin are caused by repetitive impact activities such as running and gymnastics.
Poor nutrition and low vitamin d levels can increase your risk of developing a stress fracture alongside bone conditions such as Osteopenia or Osteoporosis.
A sudden increase in impact activity can also cause a Shin Stress Fracture, while poor running biomechanics can also increase your risk of a stress fracture.
A clinician such as a Physical Therapist or a Podiatrist can create a clinical diagnosis for a shin stress fracture based on a patient’s symptoms, a positive tap test and a hop test.
The clinician may refer a patient for imaging to confirm the diagnosis, and an x-ray can identify a stress fracture, especially if it demonstrates signs of healing. At the same time, an MRI may be requested if a normal x-ray returns, as a stress fracture can be challenging to identify on an x-ray as it is small.
Physical Therapy is the best form of treatment for a Stress Fracture of the shin. In some cases, a period of 3-6 weeks in a walker boot may be recommended, especially for those with low vitamin D levels or a bone health condition. In mild cases, anti-inflammatories and rest from impact activities are sufficient to heal the stress fracture.
After removing the boot, stretching and strengthening exercises can begin, progressing onto hopping protocols before returning to running. During recovery, non-impact activity such as cycling and swimming benefits cardiovascular fitness.
A gait analysis can identify biomechanical traits that may be causing an overload of the bone, while advice on correct footwear and the necessity for insoles is beneficial. A stress fracture of the shin rarely has any surgical intervention; in most cases, it heals successfully.
Yes, you can continue walking on a Stress Fracture of your Shin if there is no pain while walking and no pain increased in the 24 hours after walking. If severe cases, you can walk short distances in a walker boot.
It takes 4-6 weeks for a stress fracture of the shin to heal and a further 6 weeks of Physical Therapy before returning to impact sports such as running or gymnastics.
Pain from a Shin Stress Fracture should ease at rest and worsen with impact activity. There may be a dull throbbing pain at rest, especially after activity but this should subside to become pain-free.
This is not medical advice and we recommend a consultation with a medical professional such as James McCormack before trying any of these exercises. James offers Online Physiotherapy Appointments for £45.