What is shin pain?

Shin pain is pain that occurs along the shin bone (tibia) in the front part of the lower leg. The shin extends all the way from the knee to the ankle. One common cause of shin pain is shin splints, a term to describe pain that results from overuse or participation in sports involving running or other impact on the foot. Shin splints arise from inflammation of the muscles and other soft tissues of the lower leg. Another common cause of shin pain is a stress fracture of the tibia.

Pain Problems Spotlight

Peripheral neuropathy (disorder that causes dysfunction of nerves that lie outside your brain and spinal cord) may cause a painful, burning or prickling sensation of the skin of the lower legs. Peripheral neuropathy can be accompanied by a loss of sensation and is caused by diabetes mellitus, alcohol abuse, or other conditions. Pain in the lower legs can also occur due to conditions that compress the spinal cord or the nerves that exit from the spinal cord, a condition known as sciatica.

The pain of peripheral artery disease (PAD, also called peripheral vascular disease, or PVD, which is a narrowing or blockage of arteries due to a buildup of fat and cholesterol on the artery walls, which limits blood flow to the extremities), known as intermittent claudication, occurs in the legs while walking. This pain arises when oxygen to the muscles of the leg is decreased when the arteries to the legs are narrowed by atherosclerosis (buildup of plaque on the walls of the coronary arteries; atherosclerosis is a type of arteriosclerosis).

Infections, injuries, and rarely, tumors of bone and surrounding soft tissues are all additional causes of shin pain.

In rare cases, shin pain can require emergency care or be accompanied by serious injuries. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) for serious symptoms, such as paralysis, loss of sensation, blue toe, absent pulses in your feet, inability to move your leg or ankle, severe bleeding, or uncontrollable pain.

If your shin pain is persistent or causes you concern, seek prompt medical care.


What other symptoms might occur with shin pain?

Shin pain may accompany other symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Conditions that cause shin pain can sometimes involve other body systems.

Leg symptoms that may occur along with shin pain

Shin pain may accompany other symptoms affecting your leg including:


What causes shin pain?

Shin pain may be caused by shin splints or other inflammatory processes, infections of the skin or deeper tissues, chronic conditions that damage the peripheral nerves, conditions of the spine, vascular disease, and rarely, tumors of bone or soft tissue.

Musculoskeletal causes of shin pain

Shin pain may be caused by inflammation or damage to your muscles and bones inclu... Read more about shin paincauses

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Sep 30, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Bones, Joints and Muscles

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