What is medial tibial stress syndrome?

Medial tibial stress syndrome (MTSS) is a common condition mostly affecting runners and recreational sports players. It is an overuse injury resulting from repetitive stress to the bone in the lower leg, the tibia. Stress reactions occur on the tibia and the surrounding muscles when the body is unable to heal properly, and with repetitive stress and inadequate healing, this creates an overuse condition. Tibialis posterior, a muscle in the back of the calf has been the main muscle responsible for this condition. However recent studies have identified that several muscles are involved, including flexor digitorum longus and the soleus, which are two muscles in the calf as well.

 

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of MTSS include:

  • Vague diffuse pain in the lower leg near the shin bone
  • Pain that gets worse at the beginning of exercise but eventually subsides
  • Pain the following morning
  • As the condition worsens the pain may persist during activity

 

What are the risk factors?

The risk factors for MTSS is influenced by your individual biomechanics of movement, and the type of training you are performing. This means that the way your body moves and its positioning during walking and running can make you more susceptible to this condition. Some of these risk factors include:

  • Flat feet (excessive pronation)
  • Training errors
  • Sudden changes in physical activity e.g. sudden increase in intensity or duration
  • Shoe design
  • Surface type
  • Fatigue
  • Decreased flexibility
  • Muscle dysfunction

 

How do we treat it?

The foundation of treatment for medial tibial stress syndrome is based on identifying the risk factors involved, and treating the underlying pathology. This will ensure that we are treating the cause of the problem so it will not return in the future. Treatment begins with providing relief through rest and ice. In order to keep you active and still exercising you are able to completed pain free activities such as swimming or cycling.

Your physiotherapist will then begin a careful assessment of how your foot, knee and hip alignment are affecting your running and walking. Taping may be used to control your foot pronation (flat foot), and other techniques including strengthening and stretching of muscle imbalances, mobility exercises, motor control and stability exercises. Your physiotherapist will tailor these treatment options to your specific biomechanics which will reduce the stress placed on the tibia.

 

If you have any questions regarding shin pain, please give us a call at (02) 8411 2050. At Thornleigh Performance Physiotherapy, we can give you an accurate diagnosis and treatment, to help you get back in action as soon as possible. We are conveniently located near Beecroft, Cherrybrook, Hornsby, Normanhurst, Pennant Hills, Waitara, Wahroonga, Westleigh, West Pennant Hills, and West Pymble.

 

References

  1. Galbraith, M. Lavallee, M. 2009. Medial tibial Stress syndrome: conservative treatment options. Current Rev in Musculo Med. 2(3) 127-133.
  2. Batt, M. 2011. Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome. British Journal of Sports Medicine. 45(2)1-8.
  3. Franklyn, M. Oakes, B. 2015. Aetiology and mechanisms of injury in medial tibial stress syndrome: current and future development. World J of Ortho. 6(8) 577-589.

Comment