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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
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
Most people with shin
splints feel pain on the front lower part of the leg. Some people have mild
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-ray to rule out other conditions, such as a
In many cases you can use
home treatment to help relieve pain and swelling from shin splints.
You may also try
over-the-counter medicine. 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.
your doctor if strengthening and
range-of-motion exercises 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.
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS)
provides information and education to raise the public's awareness of
musculoskeletal conditions, with an emphasis on preventive measures. The AAOS
website contains information on orthopedic conditions and treatments, injury
prevention, and wellness and exercise.
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.
August 7, 2012
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & Kenneth J. Koval, MD - Orthopedic Surgery, Orthopedic Trauma
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