What is it?
Shin splints is a general term for pain in the anterior (front) part of the leg. Typically, the pain is caused by repetitive microtrauma to the tibia from any number of causes: weakness of the leg muscles, inadequate shoe support, training errors such as running on hard surfaces or over training, and malalignment problems such as a varus foot, inadequate arches, or over supination of the foot.
How Common Are Shin Splints?
It is estimated that shin splints account for 10-15% of all running injuries and 60% of all conditions that cause pain in the legs.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Shin Splints?
Shin splints are characterized by a general, diffuse pain along the inside border of the tibia, in the front of the leg. Four grades of pain have been outlined:
• Grade I: pain occuring after athletic activity
• Grade II: pain occuring before and after athletic activity but not affecting performance
• Grade III: pain occuring before, during, and after activity and affecting performance
• Grade IV: pain so severe that activity is not possible
Should I see a Doctor?
Referral to a physician may be necessary to rule out a stress fracture, compartment syndrome, or other more serious condition. If pain becomes increasingly worse without activity or the pain becomes more localized, see a physician for an x-ray and other special tests.
Treatment of Shin Splints
• Ice/ice massage
• NSAIDs if recommended
• Stretching of lower leg muscles
• Activity/training modification to eliminate pain
• Shoe/equipment evaluation and modification
• Compression with a sleeve or tape
Don’t try to run through the pain. If you think that you might have shin splints, see your athletic trainer for evaluation before they get worse.