Tibia fracture: Types, symptoms, and treatment

Tibia fracture: Types, symptoms, and treatment

A fracture is another word for a break. In some cases, the only symptom of a small fracture is a pain in the shin while walking. In more severe cases, the tibia bone may protrude through the skin.

The recovery and healing time for tibial fractures differs and depends on the type and severity of the fracture. Fractures can be treated by a medical professional, and at-home exercises can speed up a person's recovery.

This article looks in detail at types of tibial fractures, along with the symptoms, treatment, and recovery times for a fractured tibia.

According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, the tibia is the most common long bone in the body to fracture. A tibia fracture refers to any crack or breaks in the tibia bone.

The tibia is one of two bones that make up the lower leg, the other being the fibula. The tibia is the larger of these two bones.

The tibia plays a key role in body mechanics, as it is:

A fractured tibia often occurs with other kinds of tissue damage to the nearby muscles or ligaments. It should always be checked out by a medical professional.

Depending on the cause of the broken bone, the severity and type of fracture may vary. It may be a transverse fracture, meaning the crack is horizontal across the bone, or oblique, meaning the crack is at an angle.

Proximal fractures are those that affect the upper part of the tibia. Tibia shaft fractures occur below this area.

The tibia can have the following types of fracture:

Below is a 3-D model of a stable fracture of the tibia.

This model is fully interactive and can be explored with your mouse pad or touchscreen.

When bones are broken, they can either stay under the skin or break through its surface. Open fractures are fractures where a broken bone breaks through the skin. With closed fractures, the bone does not break the skin, though there may still be internal tissue damage.

Long bones in the body are resilient, but there are many ways that a person can sustain a tibia fracture. These include:

To diagnose a fractured tibia, a doctor will ask about a person's medical history and how the injury happened. They will do an examination and order diagnostic tests to assess the extent of the injury and whether the bone is fractured. This is important for determining the best course of treatment.

An MRI scan is often used if the other scans have not been able to diagnose the problem.

Treatment of a tibia fracture depends on several factors, including a person's overall health at the time of the injury, the cause and severity of the injury, and the presence or extent of damage to the soft tissues that surround the tibia.

In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to make sure the bone heals properly. A surgeon may place metal screws and plates on the bone to hold it in the right place, allowing it to heal with minimal long-term damage.

The surgeon may also use rods placed inside the tibia or pins placed through the bones above and below the fracture. They will attach these to a rigid frame called an external fixator to hold the bone in place.

Where surgery is not necessary or is not possible, for instance, due to a person's health, a doctor may use the following treatments for a fractured tibia:

In many cases, a person with a tibial fracture will require physical therapy and crutches or a walker to help them get back on their feet.

Recovery from a tibial fracture varies based on the severity of the fracture.

A person will often recover within 4 to 6 months. Recovery time may be longer for a complete break compared to a partial one and may take longer if a person has poor health for other reasons.

It may take longer than this time frame for a person to be able to return to their normal activities. People should always follow their doctor's recommendations about returning to walking, exercising, and other physical activity after a leg fracture.

Certain exercises can help to take the pressure off the tibia bone, such as exercises that strengthen the hips, calves, and thighs. This protection may also prevent future injuries from happening.

In many cases, a tibial fracture will be successfully managed without complication.

Fractures of the tibia or shinbone are common and can be caused by many types of situations. They can occur anywhere along the bone and include many variations in fracture type.

Fractures can be minor and take a short time to heal or more serious and require extensive surgery and healing times.

The long-term outlook for a tibia fracture is usually good but depends on the severity of the injury and other health-related factors. Doctors will be able to provide a person with a long-term outlook during the evaluation and healing process as their leg recovers.

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