Shin Splints: Symptoms, Causes & Treatments

What are Shin Splints?

Shin splints, or medial tibial stress syndrome (MTSS), is a term that refers to pain along the shinbone (tibia), which is the large bone in the front of the lower leg. It is a common condition, especially among athletes and individuals engaged in activities that involve running, jumping, or other high-impact exercises.

Medial tibial stress syndrome (MTSS), commonly known as shin splints, refers to pain along the inner edge of the shinbone (tibia), which is the large bone in the front of the lower leg. This condition is often seen in athletes and individuals engaged in activities that involve repetitive stress on the legs, such as running or jumping.

shin splints

Shin Splints Symptoms:

  1. Pain: The primary symptom is a dull, aching pain along the inner side of the shinbone. This pain may start as mild and gradually become more severe.
  2. Tenderness: The affected area may be tender to the touch.
  3. Swelling: Swelling or inflammation may occur in the lower leg.
  4. Mild swelling: There may be mild swelling or redness in the shin.

Shin Splints Causes:

Several factors contribute to the development of shin splints:

  1. Overuse: Rapidly increasing the intensity, duration, or frequency of exercise, especially activities like running or jumping, can strain the muscles, tendons, and bone tissues.
  2. Improper footwear: Wearing shoes with inadequate support or shoes that are worn out can contribute to shin splints.
  3. Flat feet or overpronation: People with flat feet or those whose feet roll excessively inward (overpronation) are more prone to shin splints.
  4. Running on hard surfaces: Training on hard surfaces, such as concrete, can increase the impact on the legs.
  5. Muscle imbalances: Weakness in certain muscle groups, such as the calf muscles or the muscles surrounding the shin, can contribute to shin splints.
  6. Inadequate warm-up: Failing to warm up properly before engaging in physical activity can increase the risk of shin splints.

Shin Splints Treatments:

  1. Rest: Giving the affected leg adequate time to rest is crucial for recovery. This may involve a temporary break from activities that cause pain.
  2. Ice: Applying ice to the affected area can help reduce inflammation and alleviate pain. Ice packs can be applied for 15-20 minutes several times a day.
  3. Compression: Wearing compression bandages or sleeves can help reduce swelling.
  4. Elevation: Elevating the leg when at rest can aid in reducing swelling.
  5. Proper footwear: Ensure you have supportive, well-fitting shoes appropriate for your activity. Consider orthotic inserts if necessary.
  6. Gradual return to activity: When symptoms improve, gradually reintroduce physical activity to avoid a sudden increase in stress on the shin.
  7. Stretching and strengthening exercises: Perform exercises that focus on strengthening the muscles of the lower leg and improving flexibility.
  8. Orthotics: If flat feet or overpronation are contributing factors, orthotic shoe inserts may be recommended.
  9. Anti-inflammatory medications: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may help manage pain and reduce inflammation.
  10. Physical therapy: A physical therapist can provide targeted exercises and guidance for recovery.

If symptoms persist or worsen, it’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis and individualized treatment plan. Ignoring shin splints can lead to more severe complications, such as stress fractures.

It’s crucial to consult with a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis and individualized treatment plan. Ignoring shin splints can lead to more severe complications, such as stress fractures.