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Compr Ther. 2006 Fall;32(3):192-5.

Shin splints: painful to have and to treat.

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Family Medicine, Sinai Hospital of Baltimore and Department of Internal Medicine, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD 21215, USA.


When people overuse their legs they develop an uncomfortable awareness of these limbs manifested as a dull burning or aching. The cause is often clear to the person with the problem as a result of the often obvious relationship to overdoing an exercise or activity and the pain. "Shin splints" is the lay term; physicians use the term medial tibial stress syndrome. The pathophysiology that leads to this pain is unclear, although there are a number of competing theories. Differential diagnosis includes stress fractures and compartment syndromes. Bone tumors or lipomas can also cause similar pain to shin splints. Diagnosis can be made by history alone in a majority of cases, but if the diagnosis is unclear, an X-ray and magnetic resonance imaging should be considered. Treatment is still mostly supportive and symptom related. Rest is the most important aspect of treatment. Locally applied cold and anti-inflammatory medication have also been felt to be beneficial.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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