Two bones make up the lower leg: the tibia and fibula. The tibia is better known as the shinbone, and can be subjected to a break or fracture from a variety of injuries. Often times, with a tibia fracture, the surrounding soft tissue can become damaged during an injury, so analyzing soft tissue injuries is important when dealing with a broken bone, in order to properly heal the leg.
A tibia fracture is common in trauma injuries, such as:
Fall from a height
Direct blow to the bone However, other factors can increase the risk of suffering from a tibia fracture, including:
Constant strain put on the tibia bone, such as aggressive physical activity
Condition which weaken the bone, such as cancer or osteoporosis
Breaking a bone is already painful, but fractures of the tibia usually include surrounding soft tissue injuries. Symptoms of a fractured tibia include:
Pain when weight is placed on the leg
Knee is tense and mobility of the knee and lower leg is limited
Foot experiences a degree of numbness, which indicates nerve damage around the fracture
Foot feels cool or looks pale, an indication that blood is not reaching the vessels in the foot
To diagnose a fractured tibia, your doctor will question you about the injury and the surrounding circumstances. A physical exam will allow the doctor to examine the entire leg, and look for indications of soft tissue damage around the injury and knee. A doctor will also look for related injuries, including:
Blood circulation In order to determine the location of the fracture, your doctor may request the following tests be done:
X-ray: To locate the fracture and examine the severity of the break
CT Scan: Offers a thorough view of the fracture and surrounding injury
MRI: May be requested, but during early injury is not as conclusive
With fractures that do not puncture the skin, a cast or brace is typically applied to the leg to keep the bone from moving during healing. The doctor may also require you use crutches to get around, as to not put any pressure on the bone as it repairs.
If the bone needs support with alignment, an external fixation device may be attached to the bone on either side of the fracture to hold the bone in place as it heals. With injuries that include severe soft tissue damage, vertical incisions can be made around the injury to reduce swelling, which is known as fasciotomy.