What are Shin Splints?

July 21, 2022

The term shin splints is a diagnostic term for pain felt in the shins when walking or exercising.

There are 3 main causes of shin pain and these are Anterior Compartment Syndrome (ACS), Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome (MTSS) and tibial stress fracture.

Anterior Compartment Syndrome: ACS

Is caused by increased pressure in the anterior fascial compartment of the lower leg after exercising.  ACS pain is usually found over the muscle and lateral shin.  The pain is often worse the first 10-30mins of beginning to exercise.  You may also experience change in skin sensation and colour. 

Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome: MTSS  

Is caused by the bone stress reaction in the distal 1/3 of the tibia, or due to inflammation of the muscle-bone interface of soleus, tibialis posterior or flexor digitorium longus.  Pain is often felt on the anterior-medial (front-inside) border of the tibia.  Pain is often felt very quickly once start to walk or exercise and ease as exercise continues.  The pain can often return when not exercising.

Tibial Stress Fracture: TSF

Are caused by the loss of tibial cortical bone integrity due to the overloading or repetitive stresses.  Pain is felt very similar to MTSS however very localised and worse on palpation, where pressure is applied, than compared to MTSS.