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Shin splints

Shin splints is the name for pain in the shins, or the front of the lower legs, usually caused by exercise.

They're common in people who do a lot of running or other activities that involve repeatedly putting weight on the legs, such as tennis or basketball.

They aren't usually serious, but can stop you from exercising and may get worse if you ignore them. It's important not to run through the pain.

They can usually be treated at home and should start to get better within a few weeks.

Symptoms of shin splints

The main symptom of shin splints is pain in the shin bones, which run down the front of your lower legs.

The pain tends to:

Sometimes there may also be some swelling.

Causes of shin splints

It's not always clear what causes shin splints.

They're usually brought on by running or repetitive weight bearing on the legs. It's thought this leads to swelling (inflammation) of the tissue around the shin bone.

Several things can increase your chances of getting shin splints, including:

Treating shin splints at home

Shin splints can usually be treated at home. The following may help relieve the pain and allow your legs to heal:

You can start to return to your usual activities over the following few weeks once the pain has gone. Take care to increase your activity level gradually, building up the time you spend running or doing sports.

Make sure you follow the steps to prevent shin splints outlined below to reduce the risk of the pain coming back.

When to see your GP

It's a good idea to see your GP if your pain doesn't improve despite the treatments mentioned above.

Your GP may:

Preventing shin splints

The following measures may help reduce your chances of getting shin splints:

Speak to a foot specialist called a podiatrist if you have flat feet or your feet roll inwards. They may recommend supportive inserts for your shoes (orthotics) to reduce the pressure on your shins.

Other causes of lower leg pain

Pain in the lower legs and shins can also be caused by: