Shin Splints or Stress Fractures in Females
Are you an endurance athlete with recurring shin pain? Are you at the point where you think you may have a stress fracture? These two conditions go hand in hand. If not taken care of properly a shin splint can lead to a stress fracture.
If you have tried a short period of rest and therapy but are not getting relief, consider asking your health care provider for an MRI. An MRI is non-invasive and had been shown to be the most sensitive and specific imaging test for diagnosing stress fractures of the lower extremity.
If you answer yes to more than two of the questions below, it is recommended to consult with your Physician, Dietitian, or Mental Health Professional as soon as possible:
-Are your periods irregular or absent?
-Are you presently taking any female hormones (estrogen, progesterone, birth control pills)?
-Are you trying to or has anyone recommended that you gain or lose weight?
-Are you on a special diet or do you avoid certain types of foods or food groups?
-Is your caloric intake less than your energy expenditure?
-Have you ever had an eating disorder?
-Have you ever had a stress fracture?
-Have you ever been told you have low bone density (osteopenia or osteoporosis)?
Why should you seek help?
You may be at risk for the Female Athlete Triad (disordered eating – including poor nutritional behaviors, amenorrhea – irregular or absent menstrual periods, and osteoporosis – low bone mass). If this is addressed early, it can aid in healing and preventing future episodes of shin splints/stress fractures.
If your periods are irregular or absent, another type of conservative treatment to try is Acupuncture and/or Chiropractic.
Hormones are released and regulated through the brain and reproductive organs. Pelvic and thoracic lumbar alignment can affect how these organs function because of mechanical strain and/or shared nerve innervation. This can cause hormone dysfunction, which can then affect bone health and ligaments(especially important in an endurance athlete with increased demands on their bodies).
In my experience with similar cases, Acupuncture and Chiropractic can regulate menstrual cycles, and decrease symptoms related to shin pain in the female athlete.
Recover Like a Pro,
De Souza MJ, et al. 2014 Female Athlete Triad Coalition Consensus
Statement on Treatment and Return to Play of the
Female Athlete Triad: 1st International Conference held in San Francisco, California, May 2012 and 2nd International Conference held in Indianapolis, Indiana, May 2013. Br J Sports Med 2014;48:289-311.
Wright A, Hegedus EJ, et al. Diagnostic Accuracy of Various Imaging Modalities for Suspected Lower Extremity Stress Fractures. A Systematic Review With Evidence-Based Recommendations for Clinical Practice. AJSM; 2016;44(1): 255-63.