Posterior shin splints, also known as Posterior Tibial Tendon Dysfunction or Posterior Tibial Tendonitis, is a condition which affects the tibialis posterior tendon, causing it to weaken and become painful. In more severe cases, the tendon can even rupture. Another consequence can be developing flat foot, since the tendon loses the strength it requires to support the arch of the foot.
Posterior shin splints can be caused by an acute injury, such as a fall; athletes who practice high-impact sports might also develop posterior shin splints as a result of repetitive stress placed on the tendon. Other risk factors include being overweight, and wearing ill-fitting shoes.
Posterior shin splints cause pain along the inner, lower third of the shin, -behind the medial malleolus, which is the bony protrusion on the inside of your ankle- extending all the way down to the arch of the foot. Bumps can be felt along the tendon in some cases as a result of the inflammation of the underlying fascia; there can also be some swelling in the area. The pain is worst during physical activities, and as the condition progresses, patients might find it nearly impossible to walk or stand for long periods of time.
In some cases, pain can also be felt on the outer side of the foot; since the injury doesn’t allow the tibialis posterior tendon to support the foot, it might shift to an abnormal position to try and stabilise the foot and ankle, causing pain on the external portion of your feet as a result.
Posterior shin splints can be diagnosed with a simple exercise called a single-leg heel raise. The patient is asked to stand on the affected foot, and raise their weight on that foot until they are supporting themselves solely on the ball of the foot. If this causes pain along the inside of the foot and/or ankle, posterior shin splints is the most likely diagnosis.
Fortunately, posterior shin splint treatment is very effective if the condition is diagnosed early. However, if the tendon has become ruptured, the posterior shin splint treatment usually involves surgical interventions.
If you are still in the early stages of the condition, the first step to follow in posterior shin splint treatment is to rest, and make sure you’re not performing any activities which put the affected tendon under stress. Some activities, such as swimming, can still be performed during this period.
After you have completed your rest, physical therapy and orthotics will enable you to regain your strength and movement. You should see a podiatrist or physiotherapist who has experience with these injuries to make sure your posterior shin splint treatment is the most adequate for you.