Ask The Doctor » Questions & Answers » Shin splints, or is it something else?

Shin splints, or is it something else?

Patient: About two months ago I started a jogging class at my college. Before taking this class I was fairly inactive and out of shape, although not overweight. In this class we pretty much just run outside, typically on concrete, three times a week for a few miles. About a week or two into the class I began to have shin splints. It started out as minor pain, but quickly progressed into much worse and more persistent pain. My shins would still hurt on days when I didn’t run. I brought it up with my coach and he told me a few stretches to do and also told me to ice and elevate my leg daily. I did this and my legs felt better for about a few days, but after this period the pain came back as bad as it had ever been. I kept on doing what I was doing for a couple more weeks with hope that the shin splints would go away. During this time I felt that the pain was progressing. I could point out a place on my leg that hurt worse than everywhere else. I again brought up my pain with my coach and he showed me a few more stretches and a different way to ice my shins. The pain persisted despite my religious stretching and icing; my shins hurt when running, but still hurt every day that I don’t run. Over time I feel like I can more accurately point out one spot on my shins that hurt worse than everywhere else. These spots also hurt when I am at rest, with no weight on my legs whatsoever. It is a dull, throbbing pain. I have continued to run even though I have been having these more specific pain for a few weeks now. This morning when I woke up my legs were throbbing quite badly, so I sad up and rubbed the spot on my shin that hurt as I had done many times, except this time when I touched the spot it hurt like a bruise. When touched, it feels like a sharp, quick pain, much like pressing on a bruise feels (although there is no discoloration that would indicate a bruise, and it is only at these specific spots on my shins).I am wondering if this localized pain is just part of shin splints, or if it is something else entirely that I need to take care of.Thank you for your help.




Symptoms: Pain in localized points when running or walking, dull throbbing in same points at rest, even when no weight is on my legs, sharp and quick pain to the touch at same points on shins,

Doctor: Thank you for your question.I also note your history of plantar fascitis and ACL tears in the past.What you are describing can only be shin splints or a stress fracture. An xray should be done to rule out the latter.Shin splints are very stubborn and when they do not resolve after weeks or ice, stretching and relative rest, physical Therapy is a must to prevent worsening.Improperly treated shin splints can lead to other problems of the back, hip, knee. Ankle or feet.Shin splints are believed to be the result of poor biomechanics and your history of ACL tears and plantar fascitus suggest the same.Once you recover, you should be fitted with custom orthotics to minimize your chance of reoccurance.


Ask The Doctor
Dr. Suneel Sharman M.D.

Dr. Suneel Sharman M.D.

Dr. Suneel Sharman completed his residency in Family Medicine at the University of Toronto. He currently operates Infinity Health Centre, a walk-in-clinic in downtown Toronto.

View all posts