Shin splints: painful to have and to treat

Compr Ther. 2006 Fall;32(3):192-5. doi: 10.1007/s12019-006-0012-7.


When people overuse their legs they develop an uncomfortable awareness of these limbs manifested as a dull burning or aching. The cause is often clear to the person with the problem as a result of the often obvious relationship to overdoing an exercise or activity and the pain. "Shin splints" is the lay term; physicians use the term medial tibial stress syndrome. The pathophysiology that leads to this pain is unclear, although there are a number of competing theories. Differential diagnosis includes stress fractures and compartment syndromes. Bone tumors or lipomas can also cause similar pain to shin splints. Diagnosis can be made by history alone in a majority of cases, but if the diagnosis is unclear, an X-ray and magnetic resonance imaging should be considered. Treatment is still mostly supportive and symptom related. Rest is the most important aspect of treatment. Locally applied cold and anti-inflammatory medication have also been felt to be beneficial.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cumulative Trauma Disorders / complications*
  • Cumulative Trauma Disorders / therapy*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Fractures, Stress / diagnosis
  • Fractures, Stress / etiology
  • Fractures, Stress / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Rest
  • Tibial Fractures / diagnosis
  • Tibial Fractures / etiology
  • Tibial Fractures / therapy*