What is Shin Splints? Its Symptoms, Causes and Risk factors

Shin splints

This term is used for pain along the shin bone (tibia) which is the large bone in the front of the lower leg. This condition is common in dancers, runners, and military recruits. The medical term for shin splints is medial tibial stress syndrome. It often happens in athletes who have recently changed their training routines or intensified their training routines. This increased activity overworks the bone tissue, tendons, and muscles. In most cases, shin splints are treated with rest, ice and other self – care measures. You should wear proper footwear and modify your exercise routine because this can help to prevent the shin splints from recurring. Shin splints are not usually serious and they can stop you from exercising. They can get worse if you ignore them. It is very important not to run through the pain. Usually, shin splints are treated at home and they will get better in a period of a few weeks.

Shin Splints Symptoms:

It is known that those people who suffer from shin splints can notice pain, soreness or tenderness along the inner side of the shinbone and mild swelling in the lower leg. The pain might stop when you stop exercising. But the pain can be continuous and it can progress to a stress reaction or a stress fracture. If the rest and ice and over – the – counter pain relievers did not ease your pain, then you should talk with your doctor as soon as possible. Pain in the shin bones is the main symptom of shin splints and this pain tends to:

  • Be felt over a large part of the shin (this area is over 5 cm across) and the pain in a small area can be caused by a stress fracture instead
  • Affect both shins
  • Be achy and dull, to begin with, but may become increasingly sharp or severe and stop you exercising
  • Improve gradually when you are resting. There are some cases when the pain may fade while you are still exercising, but it can eventually become constant and continue even when resting
  • Begin soon after starting an exercise

There are some cases when there can be also swelling. If the shin is visibly swollen or it feels hot, then you should talk with your doctor as soon as possible.

Shin Splints Causes:

It is not always clear what is the cause of shin splints. There are some studies in which are shown that this condition is caused by the repetitive stress on the shinbone and the connective tissues which attach muscles to the bone. But also there can be other causes for the pain in the shins, such as

  • Swelling of the leg muscle (compartment syndrome) which can cause cramping pain in the muscles that develop gradually during exercise and fades quickly at rest
  • There can be reduced blood supply to the legs (peripheral artery disease) which can cause an aching pain triggered by physical activity which fades after a few minutes of rest
  • A tendon injury and symptoms are including weakness, stiffness, pain and a crackling or grating sensation when moving the affected area
  • A sprain or strain which can cause pain, bruising and swelling that continues during rest
  • Stress fractures (these are tiny cracks in the bones) and the pain is often affecting the one leg but also it can affect both legs. Usually, it is focused in a small area and there can be also a swelling.

Shin splints Symptoms

Risk factors of Shin Splints:

Here are some factors which can increase your risk of shin splints:

  • You have high arches or flat feet
  • You are in military training
  • You are using worn – out or inappropriate shoes for running or working out
  • You have a lack of flexibility
  • You are running on uneven terrains, such as hills or hard surfaces, such as concrete
  • You have muscle weakness in the thighs or buttocks
  • You are participating in sports which have fast stops and starts, such as downhill skiing and soccer
  • You have suddenly increased the intensity, frequency or duration of exercise
  • You are doing improper training techniques
  • You are a runner, especially if you are beginning a running program

Also, the shin splints are having more chances to happen when your tendons and leg muscles are tired. Dancers, military recruits, athletes, women and people with rigid arches or flat feet have increased chances of developing shin splints.


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