Shin Splints

Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Remedies

Shin Splints Treatment Remedies


The contents of this app are provided for educational purposes only and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or health condition. The information provided should not be considered as a substitute for the advice of a medical doctor or other healthcare professional.

What are Shin Splints?

Shin splints are a common injury affecting athletes who engage in running sports or other forms of physical activity, including running and jumping.

Shin splints are mostly registered between your ankle and the knee.

The lower leg relies on the movement and support of this shinbone to effect walking, jumping, or running.

Shin splints injuries are specifically located in the middle to lower thirds of the inside or medial side of the tibia, which is the larger of two bones comprising the lower leg.

Shin splints are usually caused by repeated trauma to the connective muscle tissue surrounding the tibia.

Shin splints are the most prevalent lower leg injury and affect a broad range of individuals.

Shin splints are sometimes described as medial tibial stress syndrome (MTSS) by doctors.

Shin pain often results after an arduous activity or during the activity.

This is often the case during sports or activities characterized by abrupt stops and starts.

The pain may be felt by anyone who engages in moderate-to-heavy physical activities.

The pain caused by shin splints is largely as a result of swelling of the tendons, muscles, and bone tissues around the shin area.

At the onset, shin splints will be felt like an aching pain that could be dull.

When ignored, shin splints become extremely painful, eventually pulling you out of the activity or exercise.

Shin splints occur most often in athletes (runners), military recruits, or dancers.

The pain can be attributed to increased strain on one’s muscles, bone tissues, and tendons due to increased activity.

Most of these cases can be effectively treated with ice packs, rest, and other self-care or home remedies.

Proper footwear and modification of the patient’s exercise routine may help in alleviating the pain associated with shin splints.

Muscles which renders your body unable to naturally restore and repair itself.

“Medial shin splints” refers to shin pain that is felt on the inner side of your shinbone while that occurring on the outer side is known as ‘anterior shin splints.’

Most of those diagnosed with shin splints had medial shin splints.

Treatment options depend on the type of shin pain reported by a person.

Your doctor may recommend anti-inflammatory medications (Aspirin) or rest.

Shin Splints Symptoms

Persons diagnosed with shin splints experience numerous symptoms which vary from one patient to another.

Pronation occurs when the ankle bone moves downward and towards the middle to create a more stable point of contact with the ground.

In other words, the ankle rolls inwards so that more of the arch has contact with the ground.

It is also common for patients with shin pain to complain of a dull ache along the shin bone.

The pain reported by those diagnosed with shin splints may be constant and on either side of their shin bones.

The pain could also be felt in both legs of the person diagnosed with this exercise-related problem.

Having some rest and dropping the activity altogether immediately the pain is felt helps to alleviate the pain.

Any touch on the sore spot will also aggravate the pain felt by an individual.

Depending on the underlying cause of your shin pain, the pain could be within the muscles themselves or on either side of your shinbone.

When touched, the area is tender and sore.

Shin Splints Causes

Repetitive or vigorous activity overworks the muscle and periosteum (bone tissue) in the lower leg leading to inflammation.

Shin splints commonly occur after or during sudden changes in a vigorous or physical activity.

The changes can be as a result of increased frequency of activity, heightened intensity, or prolonged duration of the physical activity.

Runners, military recruits, and dancers stand the highest risk of suffering from shin splints.

This is because their activities are characterized by sudden starts and stops which are most likely to overwork their lower-leg muscles, tendons, and bone tissues.

Calf muscles that are overly tight may result to excessive pronation, a trigger factor for shin splints.

The muscles that surround the shin area maintain the arch of your foot (the instep).

Flat feet often cause slight tearing by pulling at your shin tendons.

Doing high-impact exercises or activities on hard surfaces such as running on concrete or asphalt predisposes you to shin splints.

Such activities cause injury to the shin muscles.

In some cases of those diagnosed with shin splints, doctors linked the pain to smoking as the underlying cause.

Persons who smoke cigarettes are at a higher risk of developing shin splints than those who do not smoke.

Persons who rarely undertake fitness activities are also more likely to experience shin splints than those who engage in fitness activities.

Other than medial tibial stress syndrome and anterior shin splints, there are other forms of shin splints which include compartment syndrome and stress fractures.

Tiny breaks (stress fractures) within the lower leg bones may also cause shin splints.

Overworking or running on hills exposes you to shin splints.

Shin Splints Diagnosis

Bone sctintigraphy and MRI scans can be used to differentiate between stress fractures and shin splints

During the diagnosis of shin splints, your doctor analyses the symptoms reported and studies your medical history.

Your clinical history and the results of physical examination remain the most prominent diagnostic criteria employed by clinicians to diagnose shin splints.

Doctors will use their patient’s clinical history to find out if the patient has had any previous history with shin splints.

Persons who have experienced shin splints at some point in their life are more likely to experience the problem again.

The doctor examines your lower leg (physical exam) for any signs of shin splints before ordering a number of tests to be performed.

If your doctor suspects any other shin problem as the underlying cause for the symptoms reported, he may order a number of imaging tests, to rule out such cases.

For instance, in cases where the shin pain does not positively respond to treatment, your doctor may perform certain tests to rule out stress fractures.

A stress fracture is described a tiny crack in the shinbone occurring as a result of overuse or stress on the tibia.

To be certain that the symptoms are not linked to stress fracture, your doctor will carry out imaging tests to reveal pictures of your anatomy.

Such tests would include MRI studies and a bone scan.

With X-ray, MRI scan or bone sctintigraphy, doctors are also able to diagnose and rule out tendinitis as a potential cause of your symptoms of shin splints.

In tendinitis, muscles are attached to your bones by tendons leading to inflammation and pain similar to that of shin splints.

In some cases, the doctor may opt to take the measurement of the pressure within his patient’s leg compartments before the exercise and after the exercise to rule out chronic exertional compartment syndrome.

Shin Splints Treatment

The physical examination focuses on palpable, or gentle pressure, tenderness over a 4-6 inch section on the lower, inside shin area.

Initial treatment for shin splints includes rest and ice.

Rest and ice work to allow the tibia to recover from sudden, high levels of stress and reduce inflammation and pain levels.

It is important to significantly reduce any pain or swelling before returning to activity.

Strengthening exercises should be performed after pain has subsided, focusing on lower leg and hip muscles.

Individuals should gradually return to activity, beginning with a short and low intensity level.

Generally, shin splints occur as a result of overuse of the shin bone; several days of rest, free from vigorous activity, can be used as a recovery procedure for shin splints.

Your doctor may also advise that you undertake low-impact aerobic activities for quick recovery.

Swimming and exercising on an elliptical trainer or a stationary bike are ideal substitutes for each other when treating shin splints.

Using cold packs on the shin area, say for 30 minutes and a number of times in a day, will also help in soothing the pain away.

However, doctors advise against direct application or use of ice on your skin.

Undertaking flexibility exercises will make your shin to feel much better.

A few stretches on your calf muscles (lower leg muscles) will do the trick.

This may also help in alleviating pain and inflammation.

In some cases, doctors may advocate that you wear supportive shoes able to cushion your shins.

This reduces pounding on your shins and helps to dampen the inflammation felt in the lower leg.

Shoe insoles are important in offsetting biomechanical irregularities such as pronation.

They will also offer support to the arch of your foot.

Orthotics prescribed by your doctor could be bought off-the-shelf or custom-made to ensure that as much stress as possible is taken off your lower leg.

In severe cases of shin splints where non-surgical treatments have been proved to be ineffective, surgery may be recommended.

Surgery is often used to reattach muscles torn away from the shinbone. In this case, your doctor carries out a surgical operation to open the fascia.

Sometimes, doctors may suggest the need for extracorporeal shockwave therapy.

Physical therapy could also be encouraged by your doctor with the main objective of strengthening the muscles around your shins.

Shin Splints Prevention

To lower the risk of developing shin splints, it is important that you variegate your workouts to avoid any trauma to any of the muscle groups around the shin area.

Intensive exercise programs that stress your shin bone should be done away with.

During exercises or any other activities, ensure that you have proper shoes on, shoes that fit you well and with good arch support.

Doctors suggest that you use shock-absorbing insoles.

Avoid exercising on hard, slanged, or uneven surfaces. Doing so predisposes you to excessive pronation.

Always opt for flat and softer surfaces to run on.

Before taking up any exercises, first do some warm-ups and gradually increase the intensity or duration of the exercise.

Sudden changes in any of those parameters increase your risk of developing shin splints.

Toe exercises are essential in building calf muscles.

Doctors recommend that you engage in strength training exercises to keep off shin splints.

If you experience any pain during your exercises, stop the exercise and seek medical attention.

Doctors also warn against running on barefoot.

Athletes who run on their bare feet stand a higher risk of developing shin splints than those who wear proper shoes during the activity.

Doctors emphasize the importance of cross-training.

This implies including low-impact exercises such as swimming in your training.

After your routine exercises, it is also advised that you ice the area around your shin to pre-empt any cases of swelling.

Training intensity should grow gradually.

Shin Splints Statistics & Facts

Shin splints accounts for about 60 percent of all leg injuries associated with overuse.

Studies show that 10 to 20 percent of runners or athletes have had shin splints at one point in their career.

Shin splints occur bilaterally (in both legs).

Shin splints may occur on one’s inner (posterior shin splints) leg or the outer (anterior shin splints) leg.

Anatomical abnormalities such as flattened arches may lead to shin splints.

The clinical name used to refer to shin splints is medial tibial stress syndrome.

Exercising on grass rather than hard surfaces lowers the risk of developing shin splints.

Restarting your training before full recovery from shin splints will aggravate the symptoms of shin splints.

Shin splints can be prevented. Wearing the right shoe lowers the risk of shin splinters.

Shin Splints Treatment Remedies plus

The contents of this app are provided for educational purposes only and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or health condition. The information provided should not be considered as a substitute for the advice of a medical doctor or other healthcare professional.

What are Shin Splints?

“Shin splints” refers to exercise-induced pain felt along the tibia (shinbone).

The tibia, also known as shinbone or shank bone is a large bone found in your lower leg.

The tibia is bigger than the fibula which is also located in the shin area. It connects your knee to the other ankle bones.

The shinbone links up with the fibula to form the ankle joint and with the femur to form the knee joint.

Some doctors describe shin pain as a cumulative stress disorder occurring as a result of recurrent (repeated) pounding or stress on your bones, lower-leg joints.

Shin Splints Symptoms

Shin splint pain is described as a recurring dull ache along the inner part of the lower two-thirds of the tibia.

It is common for persons with shin splints to experience some mild swelling in their lower legs.

You may also experience soreness, or tenderness in the inner part of their lower legs.

The pain usually results due to inflammation of the muscles, tendons, and other soft tissues in the shin area.

This pain is exacerbated by any push on the shins and often during the activity or afterwards.

Shin Splints Causes

“Shin splints” is an exercise-related problem. Any activity that overloads your shin bone will definitely result to shin pain.

A sudden increase in intensity or frequency in activity level fatigues muscles too quickly to properly help absorb shock, forcing the tibia to absorb most of that shock.

Other trigger factors for shin splints are abnormally rigid or flat arches and improper or worn-out footwear during exercises.

Excessive pronation, particularly at subtalar joints will most likely increase your risk of developing shin splints.

Overpronation, also known as “flat feet” occurs when the arch of your foot collapses due to the impact that accompanies a step.

Shin Splints Treatment

The most common form of nonsurgical treatment suggested by doctors to treat shin splints is getting some rest.

Having some rest allows the shinbone (tibia) time to recover from the sudden stress on your lower leg.

To alleviate pain and swelling associated with this problem, your doctor may prescribe you anti-inflammatory drugs (non-steroidal) such as aspirin, naproxen, or ibuprofen.

Where the cause of the shin splints is improper footwear or flat feet, the doctor may suggest the use of shoe inserts or insoles (orthotics) to stabilize and align your foot and the ankle.

To prevent further swelling, doctors recommend that you wear elastic compression bandages.

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