Shin Splints (Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome)

Shin splints—also called medial tibial stress syndrome—are characterized by inflammation in the muscles, tendons, and bone tissue around the tibia (the inner lower-leg bone). Shin splints typically produce pain along the inner edge of the tibia, which is a region of the leg where muscles attach to bone. In some cases, minor swelling also may be present. The pain can be sharp or dull and throbbing and may occur during or after physical activity. In many cases, the affected area is tender to the touch. This condition usually develops as a result of vigorous, repetitive exercise. Runners are particularly susceptible to this condition, especially those who are new to the sport of who have attempted a large jump in training volume or intensity. Other contributing factors include having abnormally flat or high, rigid arches or exercising in improper footwear. Perhaps the best treatment of this condition is rest. Those affected by shin splints are often advised to refrain from engaging in the activity that caused the injury for several weeks, instead substituting less intense, lower-impact exercise (e.g., swimming or biking). Other treatments include application of ice, use of compression devices, administration of anti-inflammatory medication, physical therapy to strengthen the affected areas, and use of appropriate footwear and orthotics.