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Medial Tibial Traction Periostitis

Shin Splints

What is it?

Commonly referred to as ‘shin splints’, medial tibial traction periostitis refers to inflammation occurring where a tendon or muscle attaches to a bone.

How does it happen?

Medial tibial traction periostitis results from overuse. Tendons and muscles attach to bone via a layer of connecting tissue overlying the bone. This tissue is called the periosteum. When muscles contract, they pull on their tendons which, in turn, pull on the periosteum overlying the bone. With overuse, poor biomechanics or excessive muscle tightness, this pulling can damage the periosteum. This results in an inflammatory response as the body attempts to repair the damage. Consequently, medial tibial traction periostitis is inflammation (-itis) where a tendon attaches to the periosteum (periost-) along the inside (medial) part of the tibia as a result of traction.

Shin Splints Brisbane Treatment

How does it feel?

Medial tibial traction periostitis is typically felt as pain along the inside border of the shin bone (tibia). It is usually painful as you begin exercising; however, as the area begins to warm up the pain may subside. Following exercise, your pain may gradually return as inflammation takes place. The area of tenderness may be painful to touch and you may feel thickened areas or bands of tissue adjacent to the tibia.

What should you do?

Medial tibial traction periostitis generally does not settle on its own if the cause is not addressed and you continue to exercise. If you have or suspect you have medial tibial traction periostitis, you should consult your nearest sports medicine professional.

What shouldn’t you do?

If you have shin soreness, you shouldn’t ignore the problem. Your pain may get better as you exercise; however, the exercise you are doing may be causing further damage. This can lead to your injury getting worse such that your pain does not ‘warm up’ and you feel it throughout an entire exercise session.

Could there be any long-term effects?

Medial tibial traction periostitis does not produce any long-term effects, as long as it is properly diagnosed and appropriately treated. However, the condition can recur unless causative factors are not addressed. Possibly it may lead to a stress fracture.


The assistance of a sports medicine professional is important in the treatment of medial tibial traction periostitis. Initially, they can assist in diagnosing the problem and establishing its severity. From this, an appropriate treatment plan will be developed. This may involve initial activity modification, soft tissue treatment such as massage and stretching, and the correction of biomechanical abnormalities using orthoses. The sports medicine professional will also be able to assess and determine why you developed medial tibial traction periostitis and address this during your recovery to prevent a re-occurrence when you return to full participation.

Want specific advice for your individual situation? Make an appointment today on (07) 3846 4800.

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