Symptoms and causes

Symptoms

If you have shin splints, you might notice tenderness, soreness or pain along the inner side of your shinbone and mild swelling in your lower leg. At first, the pain might stop when you stop exercising. Eventually, however, the pain can be continuous and might progress to a stress reaction or stress fracture.

When to see a doctor

Consult your doctor if rest, ice and over-the-counter pain relievers don't ease your shin pain.

Causes

Shin splints are caused by repetitive stress on the shinbone and the connective tissues that attach your muscles to the bone.

Risk factors

You're more at risk of shin splints if:

  • You're a runner, especially one beginning a running program
  • You suddenly increase the duration, frequency or intensity of exercise
  • You run on uneven terrain, such as hills, or hard surfaces, such as concrete
  • You're in military training
  • You have flat feet or high arches