Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Shin Splints Anatomy

To better understand shin splints, it helps to understand the anatomy of the leg.

The entire leg contains four bones:

  • Femur:
    • The thighbone
  • Patella:
    • The kneecap
  • Tibia:
    • A thick bone in the front of the lower leg
  • Fibula:
    • A thin bone on the side of the lower leg

The thigh contains the largest bone in the body, called the femur. The femur begins at the hip and ends at the knee. The muscles of the thigh control movement of the knee and hip. The patella, or kneecap, protects the front of the knee.

The lower leg contains two long bones, called the tibia and fibula. The front of the tibia is called the shin. The muscles of the lower leg control movement of the foot and ankle.

Leg anatomy examples:
  • Muscles and bones of the leg
  • Regions of the lower leg where tenderness may be a sign of a fracture

Last Updated: Jan 4, 2011 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Shin Splints References
  1. Francisco AC, Nightingale RW, Guilak F, Glisson RR, Garrett WE Jr. Comparison of soccer shin guards in preventing tibia fracture. Am J Sports Med. 2000 Mar-Apr;28(2):227-33. [10751000]
  2. Jensen A, Dahl S. Stress fracture of the distal tibia and fibula through heavy lifting. Am J Ind Med. 2005 Feb;47(2):181-3. [15662637]
  3. Thacker SB, Gilchrist J, Stroup DF, Kimsey CD. The prevention of shin splints in sports: a systematic review of literature. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2002 Jan;34(1):32-40. [11782644]
  4. Wilder RP, Sethi S. Overuse injuries: tendinopathies, stress fractures, compartment syndrome, and shin splints. Clin Sports Med. 2004 Jan;23(1):55-81, vi. [15062584]
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