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Shin splints

Shin splints is an umbrella term that is used to describe pain at the front of the shin. Shin splints is an over use injury most often seen in those who participate in sporting activities.

What are shin splints?

Shin splints refers to any condition that results in pain at the front of the shin, however, the term is most often used to describe a condition called medial tibial stress syndrome. Medial tibial stress syndrome is an overuse injury characterised by pain and inflammation of the periosteum of the tibia (the tissue that surrounds the leg bone).

What causes shin splints?

The most common cause of shin splints is Medial tibial stress syndrome (often used interchangeably with shin splints, however, the correct diagnosis is medial tibial stress syndrome). Medial tibial stress syndrome is commonly seen in athletes and sports people, particularly those who have recently increased the intensity and/or duration of their training. Medial tibial stress syndrome is associated with over-pronation.

Over-pronation causes the arch of the foot to collapse and the foot to roll in. When the foot flattens it places extra strain on the muscles in the leg, and as a consequence extra stress is placed onto their attachments at the tibia.

The pain associated with medial tibial stress syndrome is caused by periostitis (inflammation on the periosteum). The periosteum is a type of tissue that surrounds bone, it can become inflamed due to overuse of the muscles in the leg which attach to the tibia (shin bone), and this then places stress on the periosteum which becomes irritated and inflamed.

The muscle that attach to the tibia include:

  • Soleus
  • Gastrocnemius
  • Tibialis posterior

The point where the soleus attaches to the tibia is thought to be the site of pain associated with medial tibial stress syndrome.

Other causes of shin pain include:

What are the signs and symptoms of shin splints?

The signs and symptoms of shin splints include:

  • Pain along the inside of the shin bone at the front of the leg. The pain associated with shin splints is described as sharp and aching
  • Pain that increases and gets worse with exercise

How is shin splints diagnosed?

Shin splints itself is not a diagnosis. The cause of your shin pain will be diagnosed by a podiatrist based on a thorough history, an examination and the signs and symptoms.

Benefit of podiatry for shin splints

If you have shin splints the following benefits can be achieved through podiatric assessment and treatment:

  • Pain reduction
  • Improved foot function
  • Improved lower limb function
  • Improved muscle strength
  • Reduced muscle tightness
  • Improved gait
  • Reduced future injury risk

The exact benefits achieved will depend on the specific cause of your shin splints, and will be discussed with you at your first appointment.

What would podiatry for shin splints involve?

Podiatry for shin splints would involve obtaining a thorough history, which is an essential component of an accurate diagnosis. The history is then used, along with any signs and symptoms, and an examination of the foot and leg to form a diagnosis.

Shin splints is not a diagnosis itself, it is simply a term used to describe shin pain, therefore, one of our podiatrists will accurately diagnose the cause of your shin pain. This might be:

Once a diagnosis has been made the following treatment options may be recommended:

All treatments are specific to the individual and will be discussed with you in full.


Shin splints is a generic term that is used to describe pain at the shin. Shin splints is often used to describe medial tibial stress syndrome, which is the correct diagnosis and is the most common cause of shin pain.

Other causes of shin pain include; stress fracture of the tibia, tibialis anterior tendinopathy, and chronic compartment syndrome.

If you think you have shin splints can help you. Our podiatrists will devise a treatment plan specific to you, one that will aim to alleviate any pain and inflammation, and that will improve the function of the foot and lower limb so that the stress being placed on the muscles is reduced.

To arrange an assessment with one our podiatrists please email or call 0330 088 4222.

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