Rarely, conservative treatments for shin splints do not work and a doctor may recommend surgery.

Surgical options for shin splints that do not respond to conservative care include:

Making strategic cuts in the thin fascia tissue that surrounds the muscles of the calf can sometimes relieve shin splint pain. This surgery is called a fasciotomy of the deep posterior compartment, and it can be helpful when damage to the fascia of the lower leg is causing shin splints.


Periosteal stripping
This surgery involves removing a thin strip of the connective tissue that covers the tibia, or shin bone, called the periosteum. This surgery can be helpful when shin splint pain is caused by inflammation of the periosteum (periostitis).

Surgical options are only considered only in certain cases and only if several months of conservative care have failed.

Dr. Robert Wilder is a sports medicine physician serving as Chair of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the University of Virginia School of Medicine and as Medical Director of The Runner’s Clinic and the UVA SPEED Clinic Motion Analysis Lab. He also directs the Primary Care Sports Medicine Fellowship Program.