Shin splints

Synonyms: Medial tibial stress syndrome

Medical Specialties: Orthopedics, Physical medicine & rehab

Clinical Definition

Shin splints is an inflammation of the periosteum, tendons and bones around the tibia, which causes pain. It usually occurs around the medial portion of the tibia and is related to exercise and overuse. Activities, such as running, place a high degree of force on the tibia bone and often lead to the condition. 

In Our Own Words

Shin splints is a very common injury in runners or people who start a new exercise program, or those who step up the intensity or add hills to their existing exercise routine. The tendons, muscle and connective tissue around the tibia (i.e., shin bone) become inflamed from overuse and force, causing pain along the inside of the shin — the side that is closest to the body’s center. It is most commonly caused by repetitive high impact activities, such as running and jumping, and people with flat feet are typically more susceptible.


The condition is painful, but usually nothing serious. Shin splints signals that it’s time to ease back on your exercise,  rest, elevate the legs and treat the pain as needed.

Relevant Conditions
  • Exercise-induced injuries
Side Effects
  • Pain on the shin bone
  • Pain occurring during or after exercise
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  • American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. “Shin Splints.” Updated May 2012. Accessed September 2013.
  • University of Maryland Medical Center. “Shin Splints.” Updated May 2013. Accessed September 2013.
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