Shin splints, or medial tibial stress syndrome (MTSS), are a common sports-related injury. Shin splints are most often found in sports that involve a large amount of running (e.g., track and field, soccer or rugby), although they can occur when a person is not involved in regular sports.
Shin splints occur when the shin muscles or tissues become inflamed or when the tendons are injured. They are part of a group of injuries known as “overuse injuries,” meaning they’re thought to become injured when the person has overextended his abilities.
There are three different types of shin splints, each of which dictates where the pain is felt. The first type, posterior shin splints, causes pain in the shin's lower inside. The second type, anterior shin splints, causes pain in the shin's upper outside. The third type, boney shin splints, causes general pain in the tibia.
Shin splints can last from one to six weeks, and even longer if the affected area is not given appropriate time to rest and repair. If the pain has not disappeared within several weeks, a doctor should be consulted. Call a doctor immediately if the pain is severe to rule out any other conditions or injuries.
An extremely tight Achilles tendon or weakened ankle muscles can also contribute to shin splints.
Shin splints can be treated by icing the area, wrapping the leg in a bandage, anti-inflammation medication and through stretching and reduced exercising (especially swimming).