Background: Medial tibial stress syndrome is a common chronic sports injury characterized by exercise-induced pain along the posteromedial border of the tibia. The reported outcomes of surgical treatment of this condition have varied.
Methods: Of seventy-eight patients who underwent surgery for medial tibial stress syndrome, forty-six (thirty-one men and fifteen women) returned for follow-up. The outcomes of the surgery were determined by comparing preoperative and postoperative pain levels as indicated on a visual analog pain scale and ascertaining the ability of the athletes to return to presymptom levels of exercise.
Results: The mean duration of postoperative follow-up was thirty months (range, six to sixty-three months). Surgery significantly reduced pain levels (p < 0.001) by an average of 72% as indicated on the visual analog pain scale. An excellent result was achieved in 35% of the limbs; a good result, in 34%; a fair result, in 22%; and a poor result, in 9%. Despite the success with regard to pain reduction, for a variety of reasons only nineteen (41%) of the athletes fully returned to their presymptom sports activity.
Conclusions: Surgery can significantly reduce the pain associated with medial tibial stress syndrome. Despite this reduction in pain, athletes should be counseled that a full uninhibited return to sports is not always achieved.
Level of Evidence: Therapeutic study, Level IV (case series [no, or historical, control group]). See Instructions to Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.