Treatment of Shin Splints
Shin splints, also known as medial tibial stress syndrome, is the catch-all term for lower leg pain that occurs below the knee either on the front outside part of the leg (anterior shin splints) or the inside of the leg (medial shin splints). They are the bane of many athletes, runners, tennis players and even dancers. The condition typically involves only one leg, and almost always the athlete’s dominant one. If the athlete is right-handed, he or she is usually right-footed as well. Thus, the right leg of this individual would be more susceptible to shin splints.
How do shin splints develop?
There are several causes and theories for why shin splints occur. Tightness in the posterior muscles that propel the body forward places additional strain on the muscles in the front part of the lower leg, which works to lift the foot upward and also prepares the foot to strike the running surface. Hard surface running as well as worn or improper shoes increase the stress on the anterior leg muscles. The lower leg muscles suffer a tremendous amount of stress when a runner lands only on the balls of the feet (toe running), without normal heel contact. The muscles of the foot and leg overwork in an attempt to stabilize the pronated (rotated in and down) foot, and the repeated stress can cause the muscles to tear where they attach to the tibia. Another possible cause is ligament damage. Both the “spring,” or plantar calcaneonavicular ligament, and the posterior talofibular ligament may be weakened or injured during running, again leading to painful shin splints. Shin splints often plague beginning runners who do not build their mileage gradually enough, as well as seasoned runners who abruptly change their workout regimen by suddenly adding too much mileage or switching from running on flat surfaces to hills, to cite just two examples.
The Response of Modern Medicine
Since shin splints are felt as intense pain in the leg, traditional treatment usually involves rest. This is after other measures, such as taping the arches, using heal cups in the athletic shoes and applying Ben-Gay to the sore muscles have failed to give relief. The problem with this approach is that resting the muscles and the periosteum, or the bone covering, will further weaken the already weak structures. It does nothing to repair the weakened “spring,” or plantar calcaneonavicular ligament, or the posterior talofibular ligament, both of which take a considerable beating during running, the activity that is the most common cause of shin splints. Thus, the chronic pain, as well as the frustration that individuals with this condition experience, continues.
The Natural Medicine Approach to Shin Splints
A better approach is to stimulate plantar calcaneonavicular and posterior talofibular ligament repair with Prolotherapy and to use orthotics. Chronic pain is most commonly due to tendon and ligament weakness, as is the case with shin splints, or cartilage deterioration. The safest and most effective natural medicine treatment for repairing tendon, ligament and cartilage damage is Prolotherapy. In simple terms, Prolotherapy stimulates the body to repair painful areas. It does so by inducing a mild inflammatory reaction in the weakened ligaments and cartilage. Since the body heals by inflammation, Prolotherapy stimulates healing.
Prolotherapy offers the most curative results in treating chronic pain. It effectively eliminates pain because it attacks the source: the fibro-osseous junction, an area rich in sensory nerves. What’s more, the tissue strengthening and pain relief stimulated by Prolotherapy is permanent!