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"Do I have shin splints?"

ZocdocAnswersDo I have shin splints?


I play tennis a lot and its always on a hard court/concrete. Been noticing some pain in my shins lately that lingers after I?m done playing. Is this shin splints? I?ve heard of them but never had actually had them.


Your leg pain sounds like it could be secondary to shin splint (also called medial tibial stress syndrome or MTSS). This syndrome occurs frequently in sports involving quick starts and stops such as in basketball, soccer, tennis, gymnastics, and even in marching bands or any sports requiring a lot of force on the muscle groups with attachments to the tibia or shin bone. It is a very common problem in athletes. About 15% of runners and 20% of aerobic dancers have been reported to experience shin splint. Chronic stress or muscle injuries may lead to micro-injuries of the fibrous connective tissue to the periosteum. Tendons and ligaments are not rich in blood supply so repairing or healing these injuries usually take much longer than your muscles. It is a clinical diagnosis (by history and physical exam) but a plain x-ray of the tibia or a 3-phase bone scan is sometimes recommended to differentiate it from other causes of chronic leg pain, such as a hair-line fracture. The treatment is REST, ICE, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Of course, rest is the most important factor in limiting further injuries and allowing the tissues to heal. When detected early, it can take several weeks to heal for mild cases, but chronic and severe cases may take several months to recover. You should seek out a sport medicine doctor for help who can best evaluate and advise you on possible therapies.

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