Lower leg pain - self-care; Pain - shins - self-care; Anterior tibial pain - self-care; Medial tibial stress syndrome - self-care; MTSS - self-care; Exercise-induced leg pain - self-care; Tibial periostitis - self-care; Posterior tibial shin splints - self-care
Shin splints occur when you have pain in the front of your lower leg. The pain of shin splints is from the inflammation of the muscles, tendons, and bone tissue around your shin. Shin splints are a common problem for runners, gymnasts, dancers, and military recruits. However, there are things you can do to heal from shin splints and prevent them from getting worse.
Shin splints are an overuse problem. You get shin splints from overloading your leg muscles, tendons or shin bone.
Shin splints happen from overuse with too much activity or an increase in training. Most often, the activity is high impact and repetitive exercise of your lower legs. This is why runners, dancers, and gymnasts often get shin splints. Common activities that cause shin splints are:
You are more at risk for shin splints if you:
If you have severe shin splints, your legs may hurt even when you are not walking.
Expect that you need at least 2 to 4 weeks of rest from your sport or exercise.
After 2 to 4 weeks, if the pain is gone, you can start your usual activities. Increase your activity level slowly. If the pain returns, stop exercising right away.
Know that shin splints can take 3 to 6 months to heal. Do not rush back into your sport or exercise. You could injure yourself again.
Things you can do to ease discomfort include:
To prevent shin splints from recurring:
Shin splints are most often not serious. Call your health care provider if:
Your provider may take an x-ray or perform other tests to make sure you do not have a stress fracture. You will also be checked to make sure you do not have another shin problem, such as tendonitis or compartment syndrome.
Kubinski A, Amendola A. Medial tibial stress syndrome (shin splints). In: Miller MD, Hart JA, MacKnight JM, eds. Essential Orthopedics. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 159.
Mugleston BJ, Krabak BJ. Caring for and counseling the youth runner. In: Harrast MA, ed. Clinical Care of the Runner. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 21.
Pallin DJ. Knee and lower leg. In: Walls RM, Hockberger RS, Gausche-Hill M, eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 50.
Stretanski MF. Shin Splints. In: Frontera, WR, Silver JK, Rizzo TD Jr, eds. Essentials of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 78.BACK TO TOP
Review Date: 11/12/2020
Reviewed By: C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, San Francisco, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team. Editorial update 09/29/2021.
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