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Shin splints are a condition that causes pain and sometimes swelling in the front part of the lower leg (shin). The pain is most likely from repeated stress on the shinbone (tibia) and the tissue that connects the muscle to the tibia. They are common in people who run or jog. Activities where you run or jump on hard surfaces, such as basketball or tennis, can also lead to this painful condition.
Most people get shin splints from repeated pounding on hard surfaces during activities such as running, basketball, or tennis. You can also get them when you:
Some people have flat arches in their feet, which can make the feet roll inward when running. This may also lead to shin splints.
Most people with shin splints feel pain on the front lower part of the leg. Some people have mild swelling too.
When you first notice the pain, it may just be at the start of your workout and feel like a dull ache or soreness. If left untreated, the pain can become sharper and last until you stop exercising. In severe cases, the pain can continue even after you finish your workout.
Your doctor will be able to tell if you have shin splints by talking to you about your symptoms and examining you. He or she may do an X-rayto rule out other conditions, such as a stress fracture.
In many cases you can use home treatment to help relieve pain and swelling from shin splints.
Ask your doctor if you can take over-the-countermedicine. For example, ibuprofen (such as Advil or Motrin) or naproxen (such as Aleve) can help relieve pain and swelling. Acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) helps with pain. Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
Ask your doctor if strengthening and range-of-motionexercises are right for you.
After you feel better, don't go back to your old exercise routine too quickly. Start slowly, and little by little increase how often and how long you work out. If you start out too fast, your pain may come back.
There are things you can do to help prevent shin splints.
Other Works Consulted
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and American Academy of Pediatrics (2010). Shin-splints. In JF Sarwark, ed., Essentials of Musculoskeletal Care, 4th ed., pp. 724-725. Rosemont, IL: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
Bederka B, Amendola A (2010). Leg pain and exertional compartment syndromes section of The leg. In JC DeLee et al., eds., DeLee and Drez's Orthopaedic Sports Medicine: Principles and Practice, 3rd ed., vol. 2, pp. 1857-1864. Philadelphia: Saunders Elsevier.
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerWilliam H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency MedicineAdam Husney, MD - Family MedicineE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal MedicineKathleen Romito, MD - Family MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerKenneth J. Koval, MD - Orthopedic Surgery, Orthopedic Trauma
Current as ofNovember 29, 2017
Current as of:
November 29, 2017
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Kenneth J. Koval, MD - Orthopedic Surgery, Orthopedic Trauma
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