Thomas Connolly, M.D.
Whether you are a competitive athlete or a just-for-fun 5k fanatic, shin splints are never a welcomed condition. This overuse injury is usually self-treatable; so it’s beneficial to know the symptoms and treatment tactics to put a stop to shin splints before they lead to further complications.
When one has shin splints, he or she will notice pain along the inner lower leg where the muscles connect to the shin bone (tibia). Pain can be either sharp and stabbing or dull and throbbing, and it can occur during or after physical activity. There may also be mild swelling in the area of the pain.
Shin splints are caused by overworking the muscles, tendons and bone tissue near the shin bone. A number of factors can put a person at risk for developing shin splints. You may be at risk if you:
According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, runners and dancers are considered high-risk groups when it comes to developing shin splints.
Your physician will conduct a basic physical exam and look at your medical history to assess if shin splints are likely the cause of your pain.
Diagnostic imaging may be necessary if tests are inconclusive or if pain does not subside to rule out a stress fracture.
Shin splints are best treated by allowing your body time to recover. Patients can do this by:
Cross-training (switching between both high- and low-impact exercises) is helpful in preventing the onset or re-emergence of shin splints.