Closed Tibia or Fibula Fracture: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, Recovery
What is Tibia or Fibula Fracture?
Fracture is the term given to a broken bone. Any bone in our body can break or get fractured. This is caused mainly due to excessive force applied to the bone which the bone cannot handle and tends to break. Fractures are of two types Closed and Open Fractures. A Closed Fracture is a type of fracture in which the broken bone does not penetrate the skin surface which is the case with Open Fractures and can be caused due to any injury in which the individual sustains a trauma or injury with a significant force.
Now coming to the Tibia and the Fibula bones, these two bones are present in the lower leg and provide stability and balance to the leg so that an individual can ambulate and move around freely without being in danger of falling. When there is a fracture of Tibia and Fibula which is strong enough to break the bones but not strong enough for the bones to penetrate out of the skin is what we term as Closed Tibia or Fibula Fracture. In majority of the cases of fracture of the lower legs, both the tibia and the fibula break because of the close proximity of the two bones. The symptoms of Closed Tibia or Fibula Fracture are quite serious and require immediate attention. Motorcycle crashes, falls, and awkward twisting are the most common causes of Closed Tibia or Fibula Fracture.
What are the Causes of Closed Tibia or Fibula Fracture?
As stated, a fracture occurs when there is excessive force applied to the bone which the bones cannot withstand resulting in it breaking. For Closed Tibia or Fibula Fracture, some of the common causes are:
- Falling from a significant height directly on to the leg resulting in significant force acting on the Tibia and Fibula upon impact breaking them instantly resulting in Closed Tibia or Fibula Fracture.
- Motorcycle crashes in which the individual falls from the bike on to the leg also tends to cause a Closed Tibia or Fibula Fracture.
- A direct blow or assault to the lower leg by a heavy object can also result in Closed Tibia or Fibula Fracture
- A sudden forceful twisting injury usually while playing sports like football and basketball can also result in Closed Tibia or Fibula Fracture.
What are the Symptoms of Closed Tibia or Fibula Fracture?
Some of the symptoms of Closed Tibia or Fibula Fracture are:
- Immediate swelling and severe pain in the shin and calf immediately after the injury
- Presence of an obvious deformity can also be seen with Closed Tibia or Fibula Fracture
- An individual with Closed Tibia or Fibula Fracture will not be able to stand up or ambulate to any degree
- An individual with Closed Tibia or Fibula Fracture will have reduced range of motion of the leg and will experience severe intense pain when doing so
- There might also be discoloration at the injury site due to Closed Tibia or Fibula Fracture.
How is Closed Tibia or Fibula Fracture Diagnosed?
In order to diagnose a Closed Tibia or Fibula Fracture, the treating physician will first examine the injured area looking for any signs of tenderness, discoloration, and swelling. The physician will then try to move the patient's leg to see if there is a reduction in range of motion and if the patient feels any pain with it. Once a fracture is suspected, the physician will order radiological studies to pinpoint the location of the fracture and the extent of the fracture so as to formulate a treatment plan. The radiological studies done for confirmatively diagnosing Closed Tibia or Fibula Fracture will be x-ray, MRI, and CT scans. In some cases if a fracture is not clearly seen on these images, then a bone scan may be done to have a better insight as to the location and severity of the fracture.
How is Closed Tibia or Fibula Fracture Treated?
Closed Tibia or Fibula Fracture can be treated with both conservative as well as surgical approaches. In cases where the fracture is mild and the bones are not out of alignment then conservative approaches in the form of case immobilization for a period of four to six weeks is done to allow the closed tibia or fibula fracture to heal. During this time, the patient will be recommended not to put any weight on the injured leg so as to allow the bone to heal and prevent malalignment of the bone. The patient will be given crutches to move around and go about his or her activities.
In cases where the bones of the tibia or fibula gets displaced from their alignment then surgery may be required to align them in their normal anatomical position. This is usually done in cases where the closed tibia or fibula fracture is severe. This is done by using metal screws and rod to align the bones and hold them in their normal places and allowing the bones to heal. This procedure is called internal fixation if the rods and screws are inserted within the body and external fixation if it is done outside the body.
Post surgery, the patient will be nonweightbearing for a period of about four weeks and not allowed to put any weight on the injured leg. Once the fracture is confirmed healed on x-rays then the plates and screws are removed and the patient is sent to physical therapy for strengthening and range of motion exercises. Once the patient is through with rehab, then the patient will be asked to put some weight on the affected extremity and once the patient is able to do so pain free then gradually the patient will be sent back to normal activities after sustaining a closed tibia or fibula fracture.
What is the Recovery Period for Closed Tibia or Fibula Fracture?
The recovery period for Closed Tibia or Fibula Fracture varies from individual to individual and depends on the age and overall health of the individual and also the extent of the injury. For cases where the fracture was mild and nondisplaced the patient can get back to normal activities within six to eight weeks post injury but in cases where the degree of fracture was significant and required surgery to correct it then it takes almost four to six months before an individual can get back to full activities after sustaining a Closed Tibia or Fibula Fracture. The recovery rate can be expedited if the patient diligently adheres to what the physician has recommenced in terms of activity, rest, weightbearing status, and participating in exercises. It is very vital for the patient to not stress the fractured site too soon after recovery for fear of refracturing it again and undergoing the same process of treatment for Closed Tibia or Fibula Fracture.