Unexplained Shooting Pain in My Shins

Whether you are an athlete or participate in regular exercise, your lower extremities endure a tremendous amount of stress with each move you make. As a result, pain along your shin bones may occur. While pain may seen unexplained at times, there are numerous causes of shin pain. The most common cause is shin splints -- or medical tibial stress syndrome. Shin splints are common in dancers, runners and military personnel. If you experience unexplained shin pain, discontinue exercise and contact your doctor.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.

Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome

Medial tibial stress syndrome causes pain and inflammation along the inside edges of your tibia -- or shin bone. The pain is normally worse with participation in physical activity and tends to subside with rest. You may experience mild swelling in your lower leg as well. If you rest, your pain will likely subside. Runners, dancers, those with flat feet, individuals who participate in sports on hard surfaces and those in military training are at a higher risk for developing shin splints. If you suddenly increase your training regime, you are also at a higher risk for developing shin splints.


If you experience persistent shin pain, you should make an appointment with an orthopaedic or sports medicine doctor. Shin splints are diagnosed with a medical history and physical examination. Your doctor may order an X-ray, a CT scan or an MRI to rule out or make a diagnosis of another condition, including tendinitis or a stress fracture.


It can take several weeks for shin splints to heal. Rest is the number one treatment method for shin splints. You should avoid the activity that caused your injury. With your doctor's permission, you may participate in low-impact exercise such as swimming or cycling. Your doctor may also recommend anti-inflammatory medications, stretching exercises, mild compression and the use of ice packs. Surgery is rarely required for shin splints.

Other Considerations

Shin splints are not the only reason for unexplained shin pain. Your shin pain may be the result of a stress fracture. A stress fracture created tiny fractures in your bone as the result of overuse. Symptoms are similar to shin splints. An MRI is need to show the presence of shin splints. You may also have tendinitis -- which is an inflammation of the tendons surrounding your shin bone. An uncommon condition that causes shin pain is known as chronic exertional compartment syndrome. This condition creates excessive swelling and muscle pressure in your lower legs. The swelling and pressure can prevent blood from flowing to your legs. This condition requires surgery.