June 27

Laser Therapy for Shin Splints


Mark: Hi, it’s Mark Bossert here with Dr. Harold Meinzer of Evolution Wellness in Vancouver and North Langley. And we’re here talking about health and how lasers can help you. How are you doing today, Harold?

Dr. Harold: I’m doing fantastic, Mark. Thanks for asking. How are you this morning?

Mark: Good. A little bit sore. I’m going to see you tomorrow for an IT band issue that suddenly feels like I’m being stabbed with a knife on my right leg. And I’m sure we’ll get that handled, but today we’re talking about shin splints. What’s, what’s the deal with shin splints anyways?

Dr. Harold: Ah, shin splints. That’s one of my favourites. That’s a really common athletic injury typically with runners. Maybe makes up about 15 plus maybe 20% of running injuries. And it’s like lower leg pain. So that shinbone or the tibia in the lower leg, people get pain along it. Typically, it’s on the inside of the leg. That’s the really typical… what we call shin splint. And sometimes people get pain on the outside. It can be similar, but when we look at it, we’ll diagnose that. It could be a compartment syndrome or another type of problem. But today we’re going to talk about the inside. Inside of that shinbone where you get all that pain and tenderness, swelling, and it’s sensitive to touch. Typically, when you’re running, then you’re going to get that pain either when you start or maybe midway through. And it can be excruciating. It’ll just shut you down where you basically walking back to the car after.

Mark: So, what are the symptoms? You kind of said some of them, why don’t we go through them in order?

Dr. Harold: Yeah. Typically, it’ll start out with just some tenderness, tenderness as you’re running, and then it will progress from that point. It’s a more and more aggressive pain. You’ll get soreness around that area, and it’ll kind of run vertically up and down along that shinbone. You can look at it, swelling. It’ll be there at a tissue level. Sometimes, you can see that there is a little bit of swelling. And then obviously when we’re exercising it’s going to be exacerbated, and then as the condition continues then, you could get it just getting up in the morning, just throughout your everyday activity when it’s really bad and you can get that pain that’s associated with it. And it’ll be like sharp. It’ll be sharp, stabbing pain.

Mark: So, what causes shin splints?

Dr. Harold: Well, I think of it as a repetitive or overuse type of trauma right around the muscles around the tibia, and also the connective tissue that runs around it. So, sometimes we call it like too much, too soon. Like you’re doing too much, too soon to your body, and tissues aren’t prepared for it. And some of the causes that are underlying it, could be like an over-pronation, if you’re in a bad shoe or you need an orthotic, that could be one of the underlying causes. Obviously, stretching is one of those things that we always try to get athletes to do that nobody likes to do. Stretching pre and also post after your run is a very important time to stretch. If you increased your mileage, and you’re doing that pretty quickly, that will all of a sudden put too much stress and load into the tissue, and cause this type of pain.

And, we also kind of… I always describe it as a bit of like tearing, a tearing that’s happening from the bone or around the bone. So that muscle is actually getting torn off, and then that tearing is really painful, and then causes that pain, right. So, and of course, inflammation, we’re always going to be inflamed around that area when tissues are irritated.

Mark: So, how does the laser treatment help with this, and how does that actually… What does that look like?

Dr. Harold: Well a laser treatment, we’re going to topically treat that, and I’ll also treat around the surrounding muscle as well. Laser treatment will go hand-in-hand with other traditional tried and true traditional treatments, that’ll be rest, ice, we want to do some stretching and soft tissue work around that. Sometimes we’ll put a compression sock or sleeve, that can be beneficial as well just to keep that tissue nice and tight. And then the laser is just going to really accentuate and speed up that healing process. So, for athletes as well as everybody else, we want to get out of pain as fast as we can. And for runners, we want to be running, we don’t want to miss a run, so we always want to be running. So, the laser’s going to speed up that process by reducing the inflammation in that area because the tissues irritated. And then it’s going to accelerate that healing in around those sort of micro tears that are happening into the muscle tissue.

Mark: So how does… If you… kind of training to a higher level and you want to keep your fitness level, what do you do in case like that? Like you can’t run anymore, what happens?

Dr. Harold: Yeah. So then you’re going to shift gears, right. So then if you’re having to train, then you’re going to have to do some training. That could be water running, so you’re doing something underwater. That’s always a good one. Swimming. I always suggest swimming. It’s non weight bearing. Nobody likes to swim, honestly. Maybe like 5% of patients I suggest it to will go like, “Yeah, I want to get in the pool.” Biking is another one, so you can get your cardio up. I always talk about strength training. And so if we can identify weaknesses within your connective chain, then we can strengthen those to try to prevent the injury from happening or reoccurring. And I always liked the core and course stability work. I think all athletes, when you look at them, whether they’re a race car driver or a high jumper or hockey player, the core is sort of one of the most important aspects of their training to keep strong because everything works off of it.

Mark: And, the laser, what’s the course of treatment? Is that our kind of standard six treatments as quickly, fairly, like every other day sort of thing?

Dr. Harold: Yeah, I like that protocol. If we kind of get at it, we’ll do six treatments pretty close in succession, and then reevaluate at that point and we’ll see where we’re at. If we’re 25, 50, 75% better with a athlete, then whether they’re going to start to sort of gradually go back to that, or if we’ve identified other weaknesses, then okay, we need to strength training before you really start increasing the load into the tissue again, so that you don’t fall back into that same same pattern.

Mark: And, what you’ve seen as far as results?

Dr. Harold: Yeah, really great results. I love using it in conjunction with the soft tissue work that I like to do as well. Kind of going through that tissue, stripping it out, but with the shin splints, it’s it’s less of that. If I’m going to do some soft tissue work, then we’ll work on that calf on the posterior part, and try to loosen the calf and Achilles up as well. But it really just accentuates… It just is such a great anti-inflammatory, and just speeds up that whole healing process. That’s one of my favourite protocols.

Mark: So, there you go. If you’re looking for some treatment for your shin splints, and you haven’t had much luck or you’re trying to keep your fitness level up for the racing season or your triathlons, the guy to see is Dr. Harold Meinzer, at Evolution Wellness. They have offices in Vancouver and North Langley. You can reach them at (604) 881-2404. He’ll look after your shin splints lickety-split. Thanks, Dr Harold.

Dr. Harold: Thanks so much, Mark. Have a great afternoon.


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