What are shin splints?
Shin spliints are actually microfractures of the tibia.
Extremely painful but not dangerous. They are best treated by
avoidence of the causative injury. They are usually caused by
running, usually aggressive, as in soccer, football, track and
field, jogging, marching, etc. Like any other fracture they can
take 6 to 8 weeks to resolve but usually resolve in two to three
weeks. They are not visible on x-ray or even MRI, and they are
usually diagnosed just by history and physical examination. If
definitive diagnosis is really needed, a test callled a "triple
phase bone scan" is performed.
Any of various painful conditions of the shins caused by
inflammation of the surrounding muscles, frequently occurring among
Actually, shin splints can be caused by a number of factors. 2
of the most common forms of shin splints are I) periostitis, and
II)tibialis anterior tendinitis.
I) periostitis is an irritation of the pereosteum (the tissue
joining the tibia and fibula) caused by repetitive pounding of the
feet. This is often seen in runners who run on uneven surfaces
(grass, forest trails, etc.). Periostitis, if unresolved, can lead
to what the above poster mentioned: stress fractures. these can
become very serious, and take quite some time to heal.
II) tibialis anterior tendinitis is an inflammation of the
tendon of the main dorsiflexor of the foot (lifting the toes and
pointing the foot upwards). this is often caused by repetitive
forced dorsiflexion, as seen in persistent uphill running. This is
fairly non-serious, unless the tendon completely ruptures which is
very rarely the case.