Shin Splints

Shin Splints Description
Shin Splints is a a common cause of pain in the front of the leg.  Shin splints are an overuse injury often in people who participate in jumping sports and activities.  Shin splints are very common in running.  Thirteen percent of injuries in runners are related to shin splints.  Shin splints usually occur when an athlete has recently increased their activity level.  Shin splints are common in pediatric and adolescent athletes.

Shin Splints Anatomy
Shin Splints involve the muscles, soft tissues and bone in the leg.  Shin splints are considered to be the result of injury involving the fascial origin of the soleus muscle or the periosteum beneath the origin of tibialis posterior muscle.

Shin Splints Symptoms
Shin Splints causes pain  over the shin bone (tibia).  The pain is usually worse activity such as jumping and running and partially relieved by resting.  People with shin splints often have tenderness along the shin bone from above the ankle to almost the knee. 

Shin Splints Treatment 
Shin Splints s diagnosed based on a detailed history, physical exam and xrays performed by an orthopaedic surgeon, or sports medicine specialist.  Bone scans or MRI's are often needed to rule out other possible causes of leg pain such as a stress fracture. 

Treatment for shin splints begins with resting the leg and avoid the activity that started the shin splints.  NSAIDs, heel cord stretching, heel pads,  and Shin Splint Sleeve are often beneficial.  A generalized treatment program for shin splints includes:

  • 7-10 days of rest. 
  • Heel-cord stretching, icing 20 minutes 3 times a day.
  • NSAIDs for 2wks. 
  • Return to running at 2 wks  at 50% of previous pace, 50% previous distance. 
  • Gradual increase to normal over 3-6weeks. 

Some people have variations in the alignment of their ankle and heel and may benefit from certain types of shoes and shoe inserts.  People  with varus heel may benefit from a medal heel wedge. People with a varus foot may benefit froma  medial post beneath the forefoot. People with excessive pronation may benefit from an orthotic device.  People with hindfoot valgus may benefit from a heal cup.

Shin Splints Prevention
Prevention of Shin Splints is centered on a gradual return to sports and gradually increasing a persons running or sports activity.  People that rapidly increase their activity level are more susceptible to shin splints.

Shin Splints Risk Factors
Shin Splints is associated the following sports: Baseball; Basketball; Dance; Football; Rugby; Running; Soccer; Tennis; Volleyball.  Any sport or exercise program with a rapid increase in activity level can lead to shin splints.

Shin Splints Rehab and Exercise Program
Shin Splints

Shin Splints Outcomes
Shin Splints generally resolve completely with appropriate rest and treatment.  Recurrence is common especially in young people less than 21 years old. 

Similar injuries that can be confused with Shin Splints include:
 Chronic exertional compartment syndrome
    Stress fracture: ruled out with bone scan
    Complex Regional Pain Syndrome
    Peripheral nerve entrapment
    DVT/ Venous stasis
    Arterial vascular disease
    Popliteal artery syndrome

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