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Whether you're running after a soccer ball, jogging around the neighborhood park or training for a race, you're at risk of a common, running-related injury called shin splints (medial tibial stress syndrome). The term "shin splints" refers to pain along the shinbone (tibia) — the large bone in the front of your lower leg. The pain is caused by an overload on the shinbone and the connective tissues that attach your muscles to the bone. The risk of shin splints is no reason to give up your morning jog or afternoon aerobics class. Most cases of shin splints can be treated with rest, ice and other self-care measures — and wearing proper footwear and modifying your exercise routine can help prevent shin splints from recurring.
Causes of Shin Splints
Shin splints are caused by an overload on the shinbone and the connective tissues that attach your muscles to the bone. The overload is often caused by specific athletic activities, such as:
Shin splints can also be caused by training too hard, too fast or for too long.
Signs & Symptoms of Shin Splints
If you have shin splints, you may notice:
At first, the pain may stop when you stop running or exercising. Eventually, however, the pain may be continuous.
Diagnosis of Shin Splints
Shin splints are usually diagnosed based on your medical history and a physical exam. In some cases, an X-ray or other imaging studies can help the doctor rule out other conditions, such as a stress fracture — tiny cracks in a bone often caused by overuse.
Treatments of Shin Splints
In most cases, you can treat shin splints with simple self-care steps:
It's also important to resume your usual activities gradually. If your shin isn't completely healed, returning to your usual activities may only cause continued pain.
Prevention of Shin Splints
To prevent shin splints:
It's also important to know when to rest; at the first sign of shin pain, take a break.
When to seek Medical Advice
Consult your doctor if rest, ice and over-the-counter pain relievers don't ease your shin pain. Your primary care doctor may refer you to an orthopedist. Seek prompt medical care if:
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