Pain in Children Series (pt 3) – Shin Pain

This is Part 3 of the Pain in Children Series, by Caitlin Hagdorn.

See Part 1; Pain in Children here;

See Part 2; Knee Pain in Children here; 

In our first blog covering pain in children, we discussed niggling pain; the type of pain that comes on over time and doesn’t necessarily have a clear cause or mechanism of injury.

Today we’ll cover another very common type of niggling pain in children; shin pain.

Shin pain is often diagnosed as Shin Splints, or is now referred to as Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome (MTSS). Let’s break down that term to make it a bit clearer;
Medial – middle = the inside of the shin ->
Tibial = tibia = primary bone in the lower leg ->
Stress = more load than the structure can handle (physical in this case)
Syndrome = a group of signs and symptoms which consistently occur together and cause pain.

MTSS is an issue that can have multiple levels to it, and can move fluidly between different stages of the spectrum as shown below.



So what does that look like on my child? Well! Your child may complain of pain or tightness of the muscles in their lower legs, worsening (or not improving) over time. The pain they describe may seem like growing pains and may go away shortly (less than a week).

However, if they begin to ask for help such as icepacks, pain killers, massages, etc., they are moving from complaint to action and this can represent an escalation in their pain.

Factors contributing to this type of shin pain can include;

  • Muscle tightness of those attaching to the tibia (shin bone),
  • Foot posture and activation of foot muscles,
  • Ankle control,
  • Running technique,
  • Load.

It is common for children to experience pain. 

It is not normal. 

It is not something they should have to endure for the sake of their sport or leisure.

The good news is that we at Midland Physiotherapy see children with niggling knee pain every week. It is a common and very treatable type of pain.

If you would like some advice or assistance with treatment, please call our friendly team on (08) 9274 1482 today!

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