Shin Splints

Home » Conditions & Symptoms » Shin Splints

Shin splints are a common name for tibial stress syndrome, which results in pain in the shin bone or tibia of the lower leg. The tibia is the main bone that takes the stress of the lower leg when running or doing sports. Shin splints are especially common in people who are on their feet a lot such as runners, those fresh in the military, and dancers.

This is common in athletes who have just altered their training and have intensified the pressure they put on their legs. This results in excess stress on the tendons, bones, and muscles of the lower leg, leading to overwork of the legs and increased pain. Many times, shin splints can be treated with home remedies such as ice, rest and anti-inflammatory medication, such as naproxen sodium and ibuprofen. It usually means you have to change your exercise routine so that the problem doesn’t come back again.

Symptoms of Shin Splints

Shin splints, as mentioned, usually occurs in athletes. Common symptoms include aching and tenderness along the front and inner part of the lower leg where the tibia is located. You can have shin splints on one or both legs and mild swelling of the affected area is not unexpected.   You usually notice the pain more when you are exercising or running but, if you persist in doing the activity, the pain may not go away and can be present at rest.

If rest, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory pain medications, and ice do not relieve the pain in the shin, you can make an appointment to see the doctor for further evaluation and management of the condition. If you are a competitive sports athlete, you may be able to see your trainer for advice as to how to relieve the pain and get back to your normal sporting activity.

Risk Factors for Shin Splints

Those at higher risk of getting shin splints include the following types of people:

  • Those who play sporting activities on a hard surface and must undergo sudden stops and starts during the course of play.
  • Those who are runners and who have just started running or have just intensified their training program.
  • Those in the military who must march for many hours at a time.
  • Those who must run or walk on uneven terrain, such as cross-country runners or those who run on sandy beaches.
  • Those who have high arches in their feet or flat feet.

Diagnosis of Shin Splints

Doctors can diagnose shin splints by doing a careful history of the problem and a good physical examination. Sometimes an x-ray or bone scan is done to rule out the possibility you may have another cause of your tibial pain, such as a stress fracture of the tibia.

Treatment of Shin Splints

Most of the time, you can manage the treatment of shin splints on your own using self-care at home. This involves the following:

  • Rest as much as you can. You need to stay away from any activity that worsens the discomfort, pain, and swelling and you can turn instead to low-impact activities like water aerobics, water running, swimming, and bicycling. These do not put excess pressure on the tibial area.
  • Apply ice to the painful area. You can put ice packs on the shin for up to 30 minutes at a time for 4-8 times per day several days in a row. Make sure you avoid putting bare ice on the skin and use a cloth or towel to protect the skin from getting burned.
  • You can use nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication. This includes ibuprofen (marketed as Motrin and Advil) or naproxen sodium (marketed as Naprosyn and Aleve). Acetaminophen (marketed as Tylenol) will reduce the pain but won’t do anything for the inflammation.
  • As the pain is lessened, you can gradually go back to your sporting activities. If it hasn’t completely healed, however, the pain may come right back.

Other Foot Conditions & Symptoms

Ankle Sprains

Most ankle sprains come from accidently inverting the foot. When you invert the foot, you twist the ankle inward, landing on the outside bone of the ankle. This causes tearing and stretching of the...

read more


The medical terms for bunions are hallux abducto valgus or just hallux valgus. It is a common foot problem, especially among women. It involves having a large bump on the inner aspect of the foot at...

read more

Cavus Foot

Having a cavus foot basically means you are a person with very high arches. Rather than putting pressure on the whole of the foot, the pressure of standing and walking is placed on the ball of the...

read more

Corns and Calluses

Corns and calluses are thickened and hard areas of skin that happen when the skin protects itself against the pressure and friction of shoes or the ground. While they can look ugly, they are not...

read more

Diabetic Foot

If you suffer from diabetes mellitus (type 1 or type 2), this means your blood sugar is too high over much of the time. High blood sugar can damage the blood vessels and nerves, starting with the...

read more

Flat Feet

The medical term for “flat feet” is “pes planus” or sometimes we just call them “fallen arches. You are considered to have flat feet when the arches that give the foot its characteristic shape are...

read more

Heel Pain

The heel is designed to take a lot of stress. It is padded with thick skin and fat so you can pound the pavement or do sports activities without pain. If you do these things to excess, however, you...

read more

Iliotibial Band Syndrome

Iliotibial Band Syndrome is also referred to as ITBS. It is a common overuse injury that runner’s incur by running too much. The syndrome happens when the ligament running from the outer portion of...

read more

Ingrown Nails

Onychocryptosis is the technical term for an ingrown toenail, this is an often painful condition in which the nail grows so that it cuts into one or both sides of the nail bed. This condition has...

read more

Ingrown Toe Nails

The medical term for ingrown toe nail is onychocryptosis. Ingrown toenails usually affect the great toe. Usually only one toe is affected but some people can have ingrown toenails on both feet. They...

read more

Knee Pain

The knee joint takes a great deal of your weight when you are walking so it is especially prone to becoming painful or being injured. You can suffer from acute knee pain because of a car accident, a...

read more


Metatarsalgia is the general medical term for having inflammation and pain in the ball of the foot. It isn’t a disease in and of itself but is a symptom of other problems going on with the foot. The...

read more

Morton’s Neuromas

A Morton’s neuroma stems from having excess pressure on the nerves of your foot, usually from wearing shoes that are too tight. It is actually a small ball of nerve bundles that have formed a benign...

read more

Peroneal Tendonitis

Training smarter helps to boost performance and reduce the risk of injuries. As athletes we’re more predisposed to injuries – it comes with the territory especially when continue to push ourselves...

read more

Pigeon Toe Gait

A pigeon toe gait goes by many different medical names including intoeing, metatarsus adductus, metatarsus varus, and false club foot. These are all just fancy terms to describe a person who has...

read more


Scoliosis usually means you have curvature of the spine that goes in a lateral direction. The curvature is usually in the thoracic and lumbar spine and can lead to chronic back pain, an obvious...

read more

Verrucas Plantar Warts

Verruca (or plantar warts) are a contagious, viral, and usually painful wart on the sole of the foot. The Foot Practice sees many patients who are frustrated with the condition, having tried all...

read more