Thousands wrongly diagnosed with shin splints are 'left in pain and without proper treatment'
Shin splints is 'catch-all' diagnosis for lower leg pain triggered by sports like running, dancing and footballBut it actually covers 31 different conditions which means many sufferers are failing to get targeted help
08:25 GMT, 1 June 2012
Thousands of people are being wrongly told they have shin splints, leaving them in pain and without proper treatment, warn experts.
Shin splints is a 'catch-all' diagnosis for lower leg pain triggered by sporting activities such as running, dancing and football.
But it actually covers 31 different conditions which means many sufferers are failing to get targeted help that would put them back on their feet, it is claimed.
Wrong call: Shin splints is a 'catch-all' diagnosis for lower leg pain triggered by sporting activities such as running, dancing and football
New research from The College of Podiatry shows that one in six people think they have shin splints – sometimes based on the opinion of coaches – but haven't sought a formal diagnosis.
The survey of 2,000 people found one in three people have lower leg pain occasionally and one in ten say they often suffer with it.
But exercise induced leg pain can be caused by a range of factors, including a growing trend for running, overuse injuries and training errors.
Other causes include inadequate footwear, poor muscle strength, poor core stability and balance, says the College of Podiatry, which represents health professionals diagnosing and treating disorders of the feet.
Experts at The John King Centre for Leg Pain at BMI London Independent Hospital say using the term shin splints is resulting in half of such cases being misdiagnosed.
As a result many sufferers are unable to exercise, remain in pain and even immobile in some cases.
Dr Nat Padhiar, a Consultant Podiatrist and Honorary Reader who is a Lead Clinician and Team Leader for Podiatry at the London 2012 Olympic & Paralympic Games said: 'I would like the term shin splints to be banned – there should be a law against it.
'Shin splints is a meaningless non-specific broad
term used by clinicians, athletes and coaches to describe pain in the
lower leg and it may prevent patients getting a correct diagnosis and
could lead to long-term damage as a result'
'It's a meaningless non-specific broad term used by clinicians, athletes and coaches to describe pain in the lower leg and it may prevent patients getting a correct diagnosis and could lead to long-term damage as a result,' he said.
Dr Padhiar, who works at The John King Centre said: 'If you experience ongoing leg pain in the tibia – the sihn bone – and you have been told you have shin splints, it is vital to seek expert advice from a qualified health professional.
'This can be a consultant podiatrist, lower limb orthopaedic specialist and some specialist physiotherapists.
'Some conditions mean athletes can't run for more than ten minutes without pain, or even walk, while others can lead to a stress fracture.'
'These conditions may not be life-threatening, but it's as serious to an athlete who cannot exercise and they should make sure they seek proper help early on,' he added.
He said there is good evidence that cases of exercise induced leg pain are increasing.
The highest rate is among people doing cross country and long distance running – almost one in two regular runners will be affected at some point – followed by dancers.
Preventive measures are possible, he added.
'When taking part in exercise and sport, make sure you prepare well and take into consideration all aspects of that sport or exercise, including appropriate footwear that is specific to that sport.'