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Shin Splints (Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome)

MTSSWhat are Shin Splints or Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome?

Shin splints is a term used to loosely describe pain in the lower legs. Shin splints often arise after or during exercise. The name ‘Shin Splints’ is a generic term given to the condition to describe the area of the pain, however this is not a diagnostic or medical term. Medically Shin splints is known as Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome (MTSS). The problem is caused by excessive stress on the tibia (shin bone) and it’s surrounding structures/muscles. MTSS is one of the leading causes of exercise induced leg pain in athletes.

Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome often divided into three distinct categories:

  • Medial (inside) of shin pain
  • Anterior (front) of shin pain
  • Bone pain (Tibial Stress Syndrome)

Symptoms of MTSS

The majority of patients who present with MTSS, complain of diffuse pain in the lower leg, frequently along the lower third of the tibia (shinbone) with physical exertion/exercise. In the early stages MTSS usually develops gradually with no history of trauma. Other symptoms of MTSS often include pain, tenderness & swelling along the inside of the lower Tibia/shin bone.

What causes MTSS?

The pain associated with MTSS is often aggravated by activities such as walking or running. Shin Splints is especially common in athletes who suddenly increase their training load or attempt to do “too much, too soon”.

Risk factors for MTSS include:

  • Running on uneven &/or hard surfaces
  • Poor fitting or worn out shoes
  • Pronated or Flat feet
  • Supinated or high arch feet
  • Tight Calf muscles


Treatment options for the management of MTSS vary depending on the severity and duration of the symptoms. Some of the recommended treatment options include:

  • Rest – Avoiding physical activites, such as running, which may be aggravating the condition.
  • Ice – to reduce swelling and relieve pain. Icing should be done atleast 20-30 minutes every 3 to 4 hours over a 2 to 3 day period, or until the symptoms have subsided.
  • Anti-inflammatory medications – such as a Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), eg: Aspirin, Naproxen or Ibuprofen taking an anti-inflammatory will help to reduce any pain or swelling.
  • Activity/Training modification – Decreasing the frequency and intensity of activity frequently improves symptoms.
  • Adequate/correct fitting footwear – wearing footwear which is suitable to your specific foot type is crucial to reduce the force & stresses placed on your shins.
  • Orthotic Intervention – Implementing a device such as a custom foot orthotic, can help to correct any biomechanical imbalances. Common biomechanical issues corrected with orthotics included flat feet and high arch feet.
  • Stretching programs – to address any muscle tightness, particularly in the calf muscles.
  • Strengthening programs – to strengthen any other contributing muscles.


With proper rest and adequate treatment, a full recovery can expected. However if the underlying factors are not addressed, recurrences are quite common.



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Shop 2/17-19 East Parade
Sutherland, NSW 2232

Tel: 02 9542 3491