Shin Splints

The tibia is the bone along the front of the lower leg below the knee. “Shin splints” are pain in this region.

Causes & Symptoms

Shin splints can result from overuse or overload. The pain is a result of inflammation in the connective tissue and muscles of the leg. It is most commonly seen with activities such as running on a slanted surface, hill running, worn-out footwear, increased level of training, and those with flat foot.

Symptoms of shin splints include a tender, sore, and/or painful lower leg with or without swelling. This is mostly with activity but can be felt at rest as well.

Evaluation & Treatment

Evaluation of shin splints begins with a medical history and physical exam. X-rays are done to rule out other conditions such as stress fractures, which are small cracks in the bone.

Treatment of shin splints includes rest, ice, anti-inflammatory medication, and reducing activity level. Activities such as low impact exercises, such as swimming, bicycling or water running may be helpful during this time.

Ice packs wrapped in a thin towel can be applied to the affected shin for 15 to 20 minutes four times a day for several days.

In those with shoe wear problems, evaluation and orthotics may be recommended.

With treatment activity can be increased gradually.