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.
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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.
If over-pronation is causing your shin splints, you can get custom-made arch supports, called orthotics, which help correct the over-pronation.
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
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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.
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Last reviewed December 2014 by Michael Woods, MD Last Updated: 12/20/2014