Image credit 1
Do you suffer from shin splints or compartment syndrome?
Hands On Healing in Montgomery, Alabama offers therapeutic treatment for lower leg pain and related conditions.
Shin Splints are a common (and commonly misunderstood) dysfunction of the lower leg.
The term “shin splints” is actually a catch-all term that more or less refers to pain below the knee. (Big help there, right?)
Despite describing a broad area that the condition affects, it is part of a category of dysfunctions known as an overuse injury.
Overuse injuries are often the result of regular strenuous use of an area of the body in which poor postural alignment of the feet along with poor biomechanics (i.e., walking, running), will strain and damage localized tissue.
In the case of shin splints, two categories are used to describe the most affected areas in the lower leg:
Both cases of shin splints will create the sensation of dull, aching pain that may be present:
For those who suffer from AL shin splints, pain will often radiate around the front to outside of the lower leg, as well as signs of swelling and tenderness to the touch.
While PM shin splints will present the same discomforts as the AL shin splints, pain will affect the inner leg along the medial border of the tibia.
Figure 1 indicates the areas that most individuals describe as painful or tender when suffering from shin splints.
Treatment of shin splints is often very conservative.
It usually encompasses modification of activities and a strong regime of rest to allow healing to take place.
When bodywork is added to an individual’s treatment protocol, the benefits include:
Most runners or athletes will invariably experience something like shin splints at least once in their lifetime.
The likelihood increases if their physical activity does not include enough stretching or movement education.
However, shin splints often develop as symptoms of a different set of dysfunctions that involve diffuse inflammation.
One such dysfunction is called Compartment Syndrome.
A sometimes unrecognized condition known as Compartment Syndrome has often been shown to precede the development of shin splints.
When examining the muscles of the body, individuals will discover for themselves that each muscle is wrapped in a covering of connective tissue or “fascia.”
This covering serves several purposes from helping to strengthen the muscle it surrounds to creating a coating that helps each muscle glide past another and act independently.
As each muscle is separated independently, muscles that share common movements are organized into groups that are referred to as compartments.
Figure 2 depicts the compartments of the lower leg and the manner in which each group of muscles is separated from one another.
Upon close inspection, we can see that many of the primary arteries and veins reside deep inside the calf, beneath many layers of muscle and fascia. It is this blood supply that is responsible for the development of compartment syndrome.
Generally speaking, arteries have a much stronger structure than veins and are less likely to narrow under pressure; whereas veins will easily collapse when pressure is increased around their walls.
With large amounts of activity or physical exertion, blood flow will increase throughout the body
This raises the internal pressure within a compartment until eventually the vein begins narrowing and more blood is being pumped into an area than can be removed.
When there is blood that settles and will not move, you have inflammation.
Long standing inflammation in an area will eventually lead to:
With good bodywork and occasional ice treatments, an individual can release restrictive tissue.
This helps relieve pressure and improve blood flow out of the affected area, making compartment syndrome problems a thing of the past.
If you are experiencing issues with leg pain or discomfort that impede your active lifestyle, speak with your therapist at Hands On Healing about treatments and solutions.