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A Look at Shin Splints

Shin splints are a common occurrence especially in athletes. The condition, also known as tibial stress syndrome, occurs due to other underlying medical conditions. Shin splits leave you feeling an aching in your shins. Some people experience a throbbing sensation when moving at a faster pace than usual.


Shin splints can result from several other issues including:


  • Overuse of muscles leading to irritation and swelling


  • Flat foot condition where the arch of the foot is flat, overstretching the tendons and muscles in the legs


  • Small, hairline breaks in lower bones of the legs (stress fractures)


While many athletes, especially runners, will suffer shin splints on occasion, anyone can suffer the discomfort of the problem during regular walking, exercise, or fast movements. A dull pain affects the lower front of the leg. In some cases an aching pain is continuous.  If swelling occurs, one may feel numbness or weakness in the lower leg and feet.


In order to diagnose shin splints, a physical exam will need to be performed by a physician. Bone scans or x-rays may be necessary to detect fractures. The treatment for shin splints may include over the counter ibuprofen and other anti-inflammatory medications, applying ice to the affected area until pain subsides, physical therapy, or casting in the case of fractures. Some patients will also need extra shoe support to assist those who have flat feet. In the event a serious fracture is detected, surgery may be necessary.


Shin splints typically go away on their own with rest and basic treatment. Individuals will heal on their own time and it can take as long as six months for the shin splits to heal fully. Being able to run without any pain and having the same flexibility as in the uninjured leg are signs the shin splints have healed.