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Shin Splints - Topic Overview

What are shin splints?

Shin splints are a condition that causes pain and sometimes swelling in the front part of the lower leg (shin) camera.gif. 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 condition.

What causes shin splints?

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:

  • Change to new running or workout shoes or wear shoes that don't have enough support. This can happen when you wear your shoes too long and they wear out.
  • Run or walk on a different surface than you are used to. For example, you might get shin splints when you switch from running on a trail to concrete or asphalt.
  • Work out harder than usual or train too hard or too fast instead of working up to a training level gradually.

Some people have flat arches in their feet, which can make the feet roll inward when running. This may also lead to shin splints.

What are the symptoms?

Most people with shin splints feel pain on the front lower part of the leg. Some people have mild swelling too.

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.

How are shin splints diagnosed?

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 stress fracture.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: August 07, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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