What Is Shin Splints?

Woman holding her shin

The shin bone (or tibia) runs along the front of the lower leg. Shin splints is the common name for the medical condition called medial tibial stress syndrome, in which pain occurs along the tibia. This pain is the result of small tears and inflammation in the muscles, tendons and bone tissue around your shin.

Usually, shin splints are caused by intense or more vigorous than usual athletic activity. Some common symptoms include:

  • Aching or dull pain down the front of one or both legs
  • Shins that are painful to the touch
  • Pain that worsens during or after exercise
  • Pain that improves with rest

Diagnosis of Shin Splints

Your health care provider will conduct a physical exam, asking you about your symptoms as well as your activity level leading up to the injury. Your doctor may also take an x-ray or perform other tests to check for a more serious injury, such as a stress fracture or tendonitis.

Treatment at Penn

You can usually help ease the pain of shin splints with adequate rest, stretching, over-the-counter pain medicines, and by modifying your exercise routine. If the pain does not decrease after taking these measures, however, our team at Penn Medicine can help create a plan for managing and preventing shin splints that includes physical therapy.

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