Shin splints is also referred to as Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome (MTSS) and is one of the ten most common sports injuries. People with flat feet are in particular more prone to shin splints and women have an increased associated risk of stress fractures. It can affect young or old and is most commonly seen in joggers because of the repetitive high impact from running on hard surfaces. Running downhill can especially aggravate the condition. Acupuncture for shin splints is commonly done.
What does western medicine have to offer in treating shin splints?
Western medicine has little to offer in terms of treatment apart from suggesting rest, ice and pain killers.
Does rest from running help the problem?
The damage is done because the connective muscle tissue surrounding the shin bone becomes traumatised and micro-fractures of the bone develop. Even with complete rest it can take 6-8 weeks to resolve but the problem can manifest itself again very quickly after resuming running.
Shin splints can be caused by or complicated with excessively tight calf muscles and acupuncturists often use tui na , a specialist form of Chinese massage to loosen the muscles and promote circulation. Other times, specific acupuncture points on the calf are used to alleviate the problem.
An acupuncture point in the forearm is used to treat shin splints!
Classical Chinese medicine texts discuss what is called the “Seven taxations” which include too much standing, too much sitting and too much walking. In the modern world, this has become too much running or jogging!! There are specific acupuncture points that address these issues and are also used for increasing the health and improving the constitution of the patient according to traditional Chinese medicine theory. One of the major points that treat the “seven taxations” and used for shin splints is shenzheng (Small Intestine 7). This point is actually located about half way between the wrist and elbow and nowhere near the shin.
Mr Daniel Deng, a lecturer of acupuncture in Sydney, says that this point actually correlates to a system of acupuncture known as the Mirror X System. In these instances, the point is actually needled on the left arm if the problem is on the right shin!
Matt Callison, a Sport Medicine Acupuncture specialist practicing in California has developed a unique system of acupuncture whereby “Motor Points” are needled. He has lectured on the topic throughout the United States, Canada as well as presenting in Australia and New Zealand.The Acupuncture Clinic sponsored Matt Callison to lecture in Auckland in August 2013.
External application of Chinese herbs also can be used
In addition to acupuncture, the external application of Chinese herbs known as die da is also useful in the treatment of shin splints. These are special herbs that have been prepared by soaking in alcohol and then the formulation is rubbed into the area of the shin to promote circulation and rejuvenation.