OrthoCare Express Logo | CT Orthopedic Urgent Care
Get Moving! OrthoConnecticut blog banner

Shin Splints in KidsMedically reviewed by Angelo Ciminiello, M.D.

Yes, children can get shin splints. Shin splints, also known as medial tibial stress syndrome, can occur in children who engage in activities that involve repetitive impact on the legs, such as running, jumping, or playing sports like soccer or basketball. Shin splints can be a common source of discomfort and pain for young athletes, but with proper knowledge and proactive measures, they can be effectively managed. In this article, we will explore the symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and treatment options for shin splints in kids. By understanding these key aspects, parents, coaches, and young athletes themselves can work together to ensure a safe and healthy sporting experience. So, let's dive into the world of shin splints and discover how to keep young feet moving with confidence and comfort.

Symptoms of Shin Splints

The symptoms of shin splints in children may include:

  1. Pain or tenderness along the shinbone (tibia)
  2. A dull ache or throbbing sensation in the lower leg
  3. Pain that worsens with activity, especially during running or jumping
  4. Swelling or mild redness over the affected area
  5. Increased pain when pressing on the shinbone
  6. Discomfort that lingers even after exercise or physical activity has ended

If your child is experiencing symptoms of shin splints, it's essential to provide them with adequate rest and avoid activities that exacerbate the pain. Applying ice packs to the affected area and using over-the-counter pain relievers can help reduce inflammation and discomfort. Stretching and strengthening exercises prescribed by a healthcare professional may also aid in recovery.

Causes of Shin Splints

Overuse and repetitive stress:

Engaging in high-impact activities, such as running, dancing, and jumping, without proper conditioning and gradual progression can strain the muscles and tendons in the lower leg, leading to shin splints.

Sudden increase in activity level:

A rapid increase in training intensity, duration, or frequency can overload the muscles and tissues in the lower leg, increasing the risk of developing shin splints.

Improper footwear:

Wearing shoes that lack proper support, cushioning, or do not fit well can contribute to the development of shin splints. Inadequate shock absorption can increase stress on the shins during physical activity.

Biomechanical issues:

Abnormal foot mechanics, such as flat feet or high arches, can alter the distribution of forces in the lower leg, increasing the risk of shin splints. Poor running or walking mechanics can also contribute to excessive stress on the shins.

Training surface:

Running or participating in sports on hard surfaces like concrete or uneven terrain can intensify the impact on the lower leg, leading to shin splints.

Muscle imbalances and weakness:

Weakness or imbalance in the muscles of the lower leg, including the calf muscles and shin muscles (tibialis anterior), can place excess strain on the shin area and contribute to the development of shin splints.

Diagnosing Shin Splints in Kids

You should seek medical attention for shin splints in kids if they experience persistent or worsening pain, swelling, or difficulty with weight-bearing activities. If the pain is severe, interferes with daily activities, or does not improve with rest and home remedies, it is advisable to consult a healthcare professional.

Diagnosing shin splints in kids involves a thorough assessment of their medical history, a physical examination, and, in some cases, imaging tests. The healthcare provider will inquire about the child's symptoms, activity levels, and recent changes in training or sports participation. During the physical examination, they will examine the lower leg for tenderness, swelling, and any abnormalities. Imaging tests like X-rays, bone scans, or MRI may be ordered to rule out other potential causes. The healthcare provider will consider different possibilities and conduct additional tests if needed to arrive at an accurate diagnosis. It's crucial to consult a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and tailored treatment plan. Avoid self-diagnosis, as it may lead to incorrect assumptions and delays in receiving proper care.

Treating Shin Splints in Children

Surgery is typically not required for the treatment of shin splints. In most cases, shin splints can be managed and resolved with non-surgical interventions. Shin splints in children can be effectively treated through a combination of rest, pain management, exercises, and gradual return to activity. Proper footwear, physical therapy, and personalized treatment plans are essential for recovery and prevention of future injuries.

If your child is experiencing shin splints or any other orthopedic concerns, OrthoConnecticut is here to help. Our experienced team of orthopedic specialists can provide expert diagnosis, individualized treatment plans, and comprehensive care to ensure your child's optimal recovery. Contact us today and we’ll help get your child back on the path to healthy, active living.

Related Resources:

Contact us today to learn more or to make an appointment.