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Shin Splint

Shin splints occur when the tissue that connects muscles to the lining of the shin bone becomes irritated and inflamed, causing:

  • Pain on the inner side of the shin, described as aching or throbbing with local tenderness
  • Swelling or redness of the shin — not common

Muscles of the Lower Leg

Lower leg muscles

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Factors that may increase your risk for a shin splint include:

  • Improper stretching or failure to warm up before exercising
  • Activities that involve repeated pounding of the legs on hard surfaces such as running, basketball or tennis
  • Increasing intensity of exercise or mileage of running without proper preparation and conditioning
  • Worn-out or ill-fitting footwear
  • Improper running technique or problems with the way the foot hits the ground when running
  • A strength imbalance between two opposing muscle groups in the leg
  • Flattened foot arches
  • Running on a slope

Treating Shin Splints

RICE therapy can help reduce swelling and pain:

  • Rest 
  • Ice — Apply ice in 15-minute periods during the first 24 hours and for several days after if needed
  • Compression with an elastic compression bandage 
  • Elevation — Raise the injured leg for the first 24 hours, including during sleep

Your doctor may also recommend pain medication or orthotics.  

Make an Appointment

Call 434.243.3675.


Content was created using EBSCO’s Health Library. Edits to original content made by Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia. This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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