By Dr. Jaclyn Kissel BSc, DC, FRCCSS
Sport Specialist Chiropractor
Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome (MTSS), commonly known as shin splints in the general public, is an exercise-induced nagging dull ache along the lower inner shin (approximately 2 centimetres in length). It is one of the most common complaints of the lower leg in the athletic population, and an incidence ranging between 4 and 35%. This condition most commonly affects runners and those athletes whose sports involve running such as soccer, basketball, long jump and tennis.
What Causes MTSS?
The cause of MTSS is controversial and there are many theories. Some researchers believe it is the micro-tearing of the deep calf muscle, called the soleus, away from the shin bone, causing inflammation. Others suggested that MTSS is a consequence of repetitive stress imposed by impact forces that eccentrically fatigue the soleus which creates repeated tibial bending or bowing, in turn overloading the bone-remodelling capabilities of the tibia. In simple terms this theory suggests that MTSS is related to mechanical overloading of the bone. Lastly, Messier and Pittalai showed that not only was increased pronation significant in participants with MTSS, but the maximum velocity of pronation (how quickly one slams their foot into prontation) had a greater correlation in those with MTSS than did pronation alone.
What Are the Risk Factors of MTSS?
The proposed risk factors of MTSS are:
How Can I Treat MTSS?
Treating MTSS can be challenging due to the fact that we still do not know exactly what causes it. However, understanding the sport and assessing for potential risk factors can help guide treatment. There are various treatment options that can be prescribed by your chiropractor or physiotherapist. Listed below are treatment options that can be performed by your health care provider after an assessment to ensure your treatment is specific to your injury.
MTSS is a tricky condition that may linger for weeks or months. Do not ignore the symptoms because the earlier you receive treatment the quicker you will heal.