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What Are Posterior Shin Splints?

Shin splints1 are the painful condition of tibia bone caused by over exertive activities such as exercises, heavy weight training, etc. Posterior shin splints are the name given to medial shin splint that develops in the lower portion of the shin bone towards the medial aspect of the body. It is an inflammatory condition of the tendon attached to the inner side of the shin bone. It leads to pain in the inner surface of shin bone radiating to the arches of feet. It is often associated with stress fracture. Tibial stress fracture and posterior shin splints are together called medial tibial stress syndrome.

What Are Posterior Shin Splints?

What Are Posterior Shin Splints?2

Posterior shin splints are painful condition whose location is posterior or back or inner part of the shin bone attached to tibialis posterior muscle. Tibialis posterior muscle is responsible for lifting and controlling the arch of the foot when your body weight is balanced while walking or running. A posterior shin splint is caused due to the weakening or loss of endurance of this muscle resulted from over-pronation. This results in excess stress on the shin bone to bear the weight of the body.

A posterior shin splint is marked by the pain felt in the inner part of the tibia bone mostly extending to the feet. Stress fractures are small cracks appearing on the shin bone due to overstraining. Its pain is also reflected in the inner portion of the bone. Both of them are referred to medial tibial stress syndrome (MTSS).

Causes Of Posterior Shin Splints3

Posterior shin splints are caused by repetitive overstraining of calf muscles and surrounding connective tissues due to high-intensity exercises, running and heavy weight bearing activities. Past fractures can also result in the occurrence of this condition. Flat feet or over-pronation, high arched feet or supination can trigger this condition. A sudden change in pace, intensity or frequency of exercises also causes this condition. Poorly fitted shoes or worn out or old shoes cannot absorb the impact force of the exercises and strenuous activities.

Symptoms Of Posterior Shin Splints4

The patient feels the following symptoms of posterior shin splints-

  • Pain after the start of exercise or physical activity especially running
  • Pain is felt at the region of the previous fracture
  • Pain centered in between a middle portion of shin bone and ankle
  • Pain extends to the foot
  • Dull and achy pain in the beginning which may become sharp and severe if the strenuous activity is not ceased.
  • It may affect both the legs
  • It sometimes causes localized swelling of the bone
  • Muscle pain
  • Numbness and weakness in the feet

In severe cases, the shin may appear hot and extremely painful even at rest

Diagnosis Of Posterior Shin Splints5

Posterior shin splints can be diagnosed by its symptoms, physical examination, X-rays and other imaging scans.

Treatment For Posterior Shin Splints

Posterior shin splints respond well to rest and treatment. It can be treated by following ways-

Rest- One should take rest for two to three weeks to relieve pain, resting means avoiding all the activities especially postponing exercising routine that triggers pain. For, example, one should avoid walking on hard surfaces like concrete. One should walk at a slow pace for short intervals. Less strenuous activities like swimming, biking can be adopted as they don’t cause stress on the shin.

  • Ice application on the affected part for 20 minutes several times a day also relieves the symptoms of posterior shin splints.
  • Compression bandages can control swelling.
  • Painkillers like anti-inflammatory medicines such as ibuprofen and aspirin can relieve pain and swelling.
  • Well fitted supportive shoes and orthotics can relieve the symptoms when the patient has flat feet.


Posterior shin splints are the painful condition of tibia bone which is located at the medial or posterior part of the bone involving tibialis posterior muscle. During weight bearing session, this muscle helps to lift and control the medial aspect of the foot. Both tibial stress fractures and posterior shin splints come under medial tibial stress syndrome (MTSS)


Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:December 19, 2020

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