ZocdocAnswersWhat are shin splints?

Question

What are shin splints?

I run a lot and do it on concrete. I'm having an aching feeling in my shins that becomes sharp pain when I try to run now. Is this shin splints? What exactly are shin splints?

Answer

This sounds a great deal like shin splints. Shin splints are known medically as medial tibial stress syndrome, and they are essentially an overuse injury to the muscles and connective tissue that run along the tibia (shin bone). The typical symptoms are aching or stabbing pain in this region with high impact exercise. If you think you might have shin splints, it could be helpful to see your primary care doctor who can confirm the diagnosis for you; sometimes it is helpful to get x-rays to rule out a fracture, although this is not always needed. Unfortunately, the primary treatment for shin splints is rest! Since it is an overuse injury, it is important to give the affected tissue time to heal. This means, at a minimum, no running on hard surfaces, and if the pain is still persistent may require more complete rest. Icing the affected areas can help, as can taking anti inflammatory medications like ibuprofen. It can also be helpful to determine if you have an over pronating stride, as this is a common cause of shin splints. Your sports medicine specialist should be able to determine this for you and, if so, help you find a pair of shoes that correct for the pronation.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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