Shin splints are identified by pain/cramping that is located along the front of the tibia, which is the large bone in the front of the lower leg. This condition is common among runners, dancers and other athletes. Repetitive strains and overloading of the tibia and leg muscles, especially the anterior tibialis, which is located in along the front of the tibia, typically result in this condition.
Shin splints are extremely common and often occur in athletes who have recently changed or intensified their workout routines. People with flat feet or high arches are at risk to develop this condition. Additionally, athletes who run on uneven surfaces, or participate in activities with sudden stopping/starting, especially while on hard surfaces, are also at increased risk for shin splints. Symptoms include a dull, aching pain in the lower leg and mild swelling. Pain may increase with activity and decrease with rest. If left untreated, the pain may become persistent.
Diagnosis of shin splints is done through physical examination and oral history. X-rays are used to rule out stress fractures as potential causes of the pain. Treatment for shin splints includes rest, the use of cold compresses, elevation of the leg, and anti-inflammatory medication. In more severe cases, a person may need orthotics, physical therapy, and/or the use of a brace.