Shin Splints (Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome)

This bone condition is characterized by painful swelling, usually along the front of the lower leg. Shin splints are common among runners and other athletes and can be a sign of deeper issues.

What You Need To Know About Shin Splints

What are Shin Splints?

Shin splints is the common term used to describe the pain felt along the tibia (shin bone), also known as medial tibial stress syndrome. Shin splints appear as radiating pain in the area between the knee and ankle. The pain from shin splint pain can feel so intense that you feel like you need to stop your workout.

This condition develops from overuse of the muscles, bones, and joints in the lower leg. Shin splints are common in athletes, dancers, and anyone who engages in repetitive strenuous action. You are especially susceptible to developing shin splints when starting an athletic regimen.

There are many types of treatment options available for shin splints. They range from nonsurgical options like compression and ice to corrective surgery. Sometimes shin splints can be a sign of underlying issues like stress fractures.

Your doctor can tell you more about shin splints. Book an appointment today.


What Causes Shin Splints?

Shin splints occur from overuse of the tibia. Excessive force due to repetitive activity on the shin bone and surrounding tissues causes the pain felt from shin splints.

Constant pounding causes small cracks to develop in the leg bones. Usually, a body will be able to repair itself naturally. Consistent overuse causes the body to not be able to recover between bouts of strenuous activity. When the body isn't able to recover, then these minute cracks can turn into stress fractures or complete fractures.

Although any repetitive activity can cause shin splints to develop, some physical attributes put you at a higher risk of developing shin splints:

  • Having abnormal foot construction

  • Running or working out on hard surfaces

  • Not wearing proper shoes or wearing shoes that have lost their ability to cushion your foot

Having previous conditions like bone fractures can increase your risk of developing shin splints.

Shin Splint Symptoms

One of the most common symptoms of shin splints is intense pain. The pain usually appears in 4-6 inch increments across the span of the knees to the ankles. You may notice pain at the beginning of your workout that lessens as you exercise. However, the pain usually returns towards the end of your routine.

Shin splints can cause you to experience the following symptoms:

  • Weakness in feet

  • Dull ache in the front part of the lower leg

  • Pain that develops during exercise

  • Lower leg pain

  • Pain in the muscles

  • Pain on either side of shin bone

  • Lower leg swelling, soreness, or tenderness

Only a doctor can diagnose your condition. Schedule an appointment to talk to a Resurgens Foot and Ankle Center physician.

How are Shin Splints Diagnosed?

Typically, the diagnosis of shin splints will include a physical examination of your leg. Your physician will also discuss your current health and family history during your assessment.

Next, they may use imaging technology like x-rays or MRIs, to evaluate your condition. These tools can help rule out other causes of your shin pain, such as stress fracture or tendonitis. Your physician will need to do a thorough examination to diagnose your condition and create your customized treatment plan. Shin splints can only be diagnosed by a professional.

Treatment for Shin Splints

There are many options available for treating shin splints. They range from nonsurgical options, like rest and custom orthotics, to more thorough treatment options.

Before trying other therapy, dedicate time to resting. Switch from intensive workouts to low-impact cardio such as stationary bikes or swimming. Resting your shins and remembering to use cold packs can help alleviate your symptoms.

To combat pain swelling, your doctor may recommend you wear a compression boot as well as take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines. They may also recommend changing your shoes or wearing orthotics to help with the pain. Flexibility exercises can help your shins feel better.

Following a doctor's guidance, you should be able to resume your normal range of motion once you have recovered. If you are still unable to recover from your injuries, there are surgical options to help stabilize your leg. A Resurgens physician will never recommend surgery unless all other options have been exhausted.

Schedule an appointment today to find out about your shin splint treatment options.