A shin splint is inflammation and pain along the inner part of the lower leg. It involves the shin bone, which is also known as the tibia.
Shin splints occur when the tissue that connects muscles to the lining of the tibia becomes irritated and inflamed.
Factors that may increase your risk for a shin splint include:
Symptoms of a shin splint include:
If you have the symptoms of shin splints, you may not need to see a doctor. If the injury does not respond to self-treatment (see Treatments below) after two to four weeks, see your doctor. You may have a more serious injury.
Your lower leg will be examined to look for areas of tenderness and swelling. In addition, the doctor will look for foot problems such as over-pronation.
Images may be taken of your leg. This can be done with x-rays.
In addition to RICE therapy, you may take anti-inflammatory medications to relieve pain if recommended by your doctor. Always use as directed.
The following steps may help to prevent the development of a shin splint:
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine
Canadian Society of Exercise Physiology
Couture CJ and Karlson KA. Tibial stress injuries: decisive diagnosis and treatment of 'shin splints'. Phys Sportsmed. 2002 Jun;30(6):29.
Moen MH, Tol JL, Weir A, Steunebrink M, De Winter TC. Medial tibial stress syndrome: a critical review. Sports Med. 2009;39(7):523-546.
Shin splints. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00407. Updated May 2012. Accessed December 16, 2013.
Shin splints. American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons Foot Health Facts website. Available at: http://www.foothealthfacts.org/what-is/ns_shin-splints.htm. Accessed December 16, 2013.
Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome (Shin Splints). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115559/Shin-pain#sec-Medial-Tibial-Stress-Syndrome-Shin-Splints. Updated March 3, 2015. Accessed September 13, 2016.
Yeung SS, Yeung EW, Gillespie LD. Interventions for preventing lower limb soft-tissue running injuries. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2011;(7):CD001256.
Last reviewed December 2014 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.