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
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:
- 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.
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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.