Shin splints is a term reserved for pain or discomfort felt behind your shinbone, which is the largest bone in front of your lower leg. Shin splints is also called medial tibial stress syndrome, though most people refer to them as shin splints. They can occur from any type of physical activity and are usually caused by excessive amounts of force on your shinbone and the attached connective tissues going from the bone to your leg muscles. They are very common in runners and anyone that plays sports with constant stopping and starting, such as soccer, tennis, or basketball.
Symptoms of Shin Splints
The main sign of shin splints is the pain or discomfort felt in your shin, which is the long bone in the front of your lower leg. You may also notice soreness, pain or tenderness on this part of your leg, have mild swelling in your lower leg, or have the pain stop temporarily while exercising or running and then return when you relax again.
When to See a Doctor
In most cases, you simply treat your shin splints with a pain reliever, but you may need to see your doctor if you have severe pain in your shin after an accident, your shin is hot and inflamed, you experience swelling in the shin that is getting worse, or you have shin pain that persists even while you rest.
Causes of Shin Splints
Shin splints are caused when there is excessive force, also called overload, on the shinbone and connective tissues. This can be caused by a range of physical activities including running downhill, running on a tilted or slanted surface, running in worn-out footwear, running too hard, too fast, or too long, or playing sports with frequent stops and starts like tennis or basketball. Risk factors for shin splints include being a runner, having flat feet or rigid arches, increasing the intensity of your workouts, not replacing your shoes when they become worn out, playing sports on hard surfaces such as basketball, or being in military training.
Treating Shin Splints
You can treat the pain and discomfort from shin splints at home by getting plenty of rest, icing the affected area, elevating the leg to help reduce swelling, especially at night, wearing a compression sleeve on the leg, taking a pain reliever such as naproxen, acetaminophen, or ibuprofen, wearing proper shoes, wearing arch supports, and reducing physical activity