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Shin Pain Caused by Low Potassium

author image Derek Buckner
Derek Buckner has been writing professionally since 2005, specializing in diet, nutrition and general health. He has been published in "Today's Dietitian," "Food Essentials" and "Eating Well Magazine," among others. Buckner is a registered dietitian and holds a Bachelor of Science in nutrition and food science from Drexel University.

Shin pain radiates up the front, lower part of your leg. It can range from mild to severe. Shin pain is sometimes referred to as shin splints, but shin splints are caused by overuse or repetitive use of the shin. Low potassium can also cause shin pain and muscle pain in general.

Shin Pain and Potassium

You may experience shin pain while running or even by pointing your toes up to the sky. Low potassium can cause muscle pain in any part of your leg, including your quads, hamstring, calf and shin. Your muscles rely on potassium, along with other nutrients, to function properly. Potassium is a key nutrient in smooth muscle contraction, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. It's important to keep a proper balance of potassium in your blood. Too much potassium is called hyperkalemia, while a potassium deficiency is known as hypokalemia.


The Western diet consumed by Americans is high in salt. Too much sodium, or table salt, can increase your need for potassium. A diet that lacks potassium in general can also cause a potassium deficiency. If you suffer from a malabsorption syndrome, such as irritable bowel syndrome or Crohn's disease, this can also contribute to a potassium deficiency. Other causes for low potassium include diarrhea, excessive sweating, vomiting and malnutrition. Some medications, such as diuretics, can cause a potassium deficiency.

Daily Allowance of Potassium

Most Americans receive all the potassium they need by including foods such as dairy products, fruits, vegetables, legumes and fish in their diet. The average adult, including pregnant and nursing women, need about 2,000 mg of potassium in a normal daily diet. Children over the age of 10 also need the same amount of potassium as adults. Infants and babies up to one year require 500 mg to 700 mg of potassium.


See your health care provider for a proper diagnosis as to why you have shin pain. Perhaps you do have enough potassium and your muscle is overused frequently. Increasing the amount of potassium in your diet could affect your kidneys since your kidneys become less effective at eliminating potassium as you get older. If the pain is due to overuse or an injury, the issue needs to be addressed before permanent muscle or bone damage occurs. A simple change to your exercise routine could make all the difference if injury is the culprit.

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