The diagnosis of shin splints has historically been used for any pain found in athletes extending along the medial (inside) border of the shin. Although, unhelpful as a diagnosis since it is not specific to either the structures at fault or the pathology at play, it continues to be used extensively by athletes and practitioners alike.
Shin pain is difficult to diagnose and is relatively common in runners, dancers and field sports participants. Practitioners are slowly moving towards making diagnoses of shin pain more specific than simple shin splints to identifying both the structure that’s been injured and the mechanism of injury to that structure.
More specific diagnoses than the traditional “shin splints” may be Tibial Stress Syndrome, Tibial stress reaction/fracture or medial tibial periostitis. Other possible causes of shin pain include muscle strains and ruptures or compartment syndromes.