The term "shin splints" refers to pain along or just behind the shinbone (tibia) — the large bone in the front of your lower leg. Medically known as medial tibial stress syndrome, shin splints occur during physical activity and result from too much force being placed on your shinbone and connective tissues that attach your muscles to the bone. Shin splints are common in runners and in those who participate in activities with sudden stops and starts, such as basketball, soccer or tennis.
The risk of shin splints is no reason to give up your morning jog or afternoon aerobics class. Most cases of shin splints can be treated with rest, ice and other self-care measures. Wearing proper footwear and modifying your exercise routine can help prevent shin splints from recurring.
If you have shin splints, you may notice tenderness, soreness or pain along the inner part of your lower leg....
If you have shin splints, you may notice:
At first, the pain may stop when you stop running or exercising. Eventually, however, the pain may be continuous.
When to see a doctor
Shin splints are caused by excessive force (overload) on the shinbone and the connective tissues that attach your muscles to the bone. The overload is often caused by specific athletic activities, such as:
Shin splints can also be caused by training errors, such as engaging in a running program with the "terrible toos" — running too hard, too fast or for too long.
You're more at risk of shin splints if:
Tests and diagnosis
Shin splints are usually diagnosed based on your medical history and a physical exam. In some cases, an X-ray or other imaging studies can help identify other possible causes for your pain, such as a stress fracture — tiny cracks in a bone often caused by overuse.
Treatments and drugs
In most cases, you can treat shin splints with simple self-care steps:
Resume your usual activities gradually. If your shin isn't completely healed, returning to your usual activities may only cause continued pain.
To help prevent shin splints:
It's also important to know when to rest; at the first sign of shin pain, take a break.
Last Updated: 2010-12-21
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