Tibia shaft fracture

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Tibia shaft fracture
Tibia (Shinbone) Shaft Fracture.JPG
Open fracture of the shaft of the tibia.
Specialty Orthopedics

Tibia shaft fracture is a fracture of the proximal (upper) third of the tibia (lower leg bone). Due to the location of the tibia, it is frequently injured. Thus it is the most commonly fractured long bone in the body. [1]


Signs and symptoms

Patients with tibial shaft fractures present with pain and localized swelling. [2] Due to the pain they are unable to bear weight. There may be deformity, angulation, or malroation of the leg. [2] Fractures that are open (bone exposed or breaking the skin) are common.[ citation needed ]


Since approximately one third of the tibia lies directly beneath the skin, open fractures are common compared to other long bones. [1] These open fractures are most commonly caused by high velocity trauma (e.g. motor vehicle collisions), while closed fractures most commonly occur from sports injuries or falls. [3] [4] Osteoporosis can be a contributing factor. [3] Skiing and football (soccer) injuries are also common culprits. [4]



Prior to realignment and splinting an assessment is performed to ensure there are no open wounds, soft-tissue contusions, or neurovascular injuries. [1]


Anteroposterior (AP) and lateral radiographs the include the entire length of the lower leg (knee to ankle) are highly sensitive and specific for tibial shaft fractures. [4]


Two systems of fracture classification are commonly used to aid diagnosis and management of tibia shaft fractures:[ citation needed ]

Management is dependent on the determination of whether the fracture is open or closed.[ citation needed ]


Nonoperative treatment

Nonsurgical treatment of tibia shaft fractures is now limited to closed, stable, isolated, minimally displaced fractures caused by a low-energy mechanism of injury. [1] This treatment consists of application of a long-leg cast. [5]

Operative treatment

Surgical treatment is typically indicated for high-energy trauma fractures. [1] Intramedullary nailing is a common technique, but external fixation may have equivalent outcomes. [6]


Tibia shaft fractures are the most common long bone fractures. They account for approximately 4% of the fractures seen in the Medicare population. [2] Tibia shaft fractures are particularly common injuries in certain sports, such as in MMA, where a successful check against an incoming low kick (a defensive technique in which the receiver's shin is used to block the low kick) can result in the practitioner of the kick fracturing their own shin. [7] [8]

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Knee</span> Region around the kneecap

In humans and other primates, the knee joins the thigh with the leg and consists of two joints: one between the femur and tibia, and one between the femur and patella. It is the largest joint in the human body. The knee is a modified hinge joint, which permits flexion and extension as well as slight internal and external rotation. The knee is vulnerable to injury and to the development of osteoarthritis.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tibia</span> Leg bone in vertebrates

The tibia, also known as the shinbone or shankbone, is the larger, stronger, and anterior (frontal) of the two bones in the leg below the knee in vertebrates ; it connects the knee with the ankle. The tibia is found on the medial side of the leg next to the fibula and closer to the median plane. The tibia is connected to the fibula by the interosseous membrane of leg, forming a type of fibrous joint called a syndesmosis with very little movement. The tibia is named for the flute tibia. It is the second largest bone in the human body, after the femur. The leg bones are the strongest long bones as they support the rest of the body.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ankle</span> Region where the foot and the leg meet

The ankle, or the talocrural region, or the jumping bone (informal) is the area where the foot and the leg meet. The ankle includes three joints: the ankle joint proper or talocrural joint, the subtalar joint, and the inferior tibiofibular joint. The movements produced at this joint are dorsiflexion and plantarflexion of the foot. In common usage, the term ankle refers exclusively to the ankle region. In medical terminology, "ankle" can refer broadly to the region or specifically to the talocrural joint.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bone fracture</span> Physical damage to the continuity of a bone

A bone fracture is a medical condition in which there is a partial or complete break in the continuity of any bone in the body. In more severe cases, the bone may be broken into several fragments, known as a comminuted fracture. A bone fracture may be the result of high force impact or stress, or a minimal trauma injury as a result of certain medical conditions that weaken the bones, such as osteoporosis, osteopenia, bone cancer, or osteogenesis imperfecta, where the fracture is then properly termed a pathologic fracture.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Varus deformity</span> Deformity in which the bone near a joint is angled inward

A varus deformity is an excessive inward angulation of the distal segment of a bone or joint. The opposite of varus is called valgus. EX: Varus deformity results in a decreased Q angle of the knee joint.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Valgus deformity</span> Deformity in which the bone near a joint is angled outward

A valgus deformity is a condition in which the bone segment distal to a joint is angled outward, that is, angled laterally, away from the body's midline. The opposite deformation, where the twist or angulation is directed medially, toward the center of the body, is called varus. Common causes of valgus knee in adults include arthritis of the knee and traumatic injuries.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Stress fracture</span> Medical condition

A stress fracture is a fatigue-induced bone fracture caused by repeated stress over time. Instead of resulting from a single severe impact, stress fractures are the result of accumulated injury from repeated submaximal loading, such as running or jumping. Because of this mechanism, stress fractures are common overuse injuries in athletes.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Shin splints</span> Medical condition

A shin splint, also known as medial tibial stress syndrome, is pain along the inside edge of the shinbone (tibia) due to inflammation of tissue in the area. Generally this is between the middle of the lower leg and the ankle. The pain may be dull or sharp, and is generally brought on by high-impact exercise that overloads the tibia. It generally resolves during periods of rest. Complications may include stress fractures.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tibialis anterior muscle</span> Flexor muscle in humans that dorsiflexes the foot

The tibialis anterior muscle is a muscle in humans that originates along the upper two-thirds of the lateral (outside) surface of the tibia and inserts into the medial cuneiform and first metatarsal bones of the foot. It acts to dorsiflex and invert the foot. This muscle is mostly located near the shin.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ankle fracture</span> Medical condition

An ankle fracture is a break of one or more of the bones that make up the ankle joint. Symptoms may include pain, swelling, bruising, and an inability to walk on the injured leg. Complications may include an associated high ankle sprain, compartment syndrome, stiffness, malunion, and post-traumatic arthritis.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Patella fracture</span> Medical condition

A patella fracture is a break of the kneecap. Symptoms include pain, swelling, and bruising to the front of the knee. A person may also be unable to walk. Complications may include injury to the tibia, femur, or knee ligaments.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Blount's disease</span> Medical condition

Blount's disease is a growth disorder of the tibia which causes the lower leg to angle inward, resembling a bowleg. It is also known as "tibia vara".

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Open fracture</span> Medical condition

An open fracture, also called a compound fracture, is a type of bone fracture that has an open wound in the skin near the fractured bone. The skin wound is usually caused by the bone breaking through the surface of the skin. Open fractures are emergencies and are often caused by high energy trauma such as road traffic accidents and are associated with a high degree of damage to the bone and nearby soft tissue. An open fracture can be life threatening or limb-threatening due to the risk of a deep infection and/or bleeding. Other complications including a risk of malunion of the bone or nonunion of the bone. The severity of open fractures can vary. For diagnosing and classifying open fractures, Gustilo-Anderson open fracture classification is the most commonly used method. It can also be used to guide treatment, and to predict clinical outcomes. Advanced trauma life support is the first line of action in dealing with open fractures and to rule out other life-threatening condition in cases of trauma. The person is also administered antibiotics for at least 24 hours to reduce the risk of an infection. Cephalosporins are generally the first line of antibiotics. Therapeutic irrigation, wound debridement, early wound closure and bone fixation are the main management of open fractures. All these actions aimed to reduce the risk of infections. The bone that is most commonly injured is the tibia and working-age young men are the group of people who are at highest risk of an open fracture. Older people with osteoporosis and soft-tissue problems are also at risk.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Toddler's fracture</span> Medical condition

Toddler's fractures are bone fractures of the distal (lower) part of the shin bone (tibia) in toddlers and other young children. The fracture is found in the distal two thirds of the tibia in 95% of cases, is undisplaced and has a spiral pattern. It occurs after low-energy trauma, sometimes with a rotational component.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Supracondylar humerus fracture</span> Medical condition

A supracondylar humerus fracture is a fracture of the distal humerus just above the elbow joint. The fracture is usually transverse or oblique and above the medial and lateral condyles and epicondyles. This fracture pattern is relatively rare in adults, but is the most common type of elbow fracture in children. In children, many of these fractures are non-displaced and can be treated with casting. Some are angulated or displaced and are best treated with surgery. In children, most of these fractures can be treated effectively with expectation for full recovery. Some of these injuries can be complicated by poor healing or by associated blood vessel or nerve injuries with serious complications.

The Bosworth fracture is a rare fracture of the distal fibula with an associated fixed posterior dislocation of the proximal fibular fragment which becomes trapped behind the posterior tibial tubercle. The injury is caused by severe external rotation of the ankle. The ankle remains externally rotated after the injury, making interpretation of X-rays difficult which can lead to misdiagnosis and incorrect treatment. The injury is most commonly treated by open reduction internal fixation as closed reduction is made difficult by the entrapment of the fibula behind the tibia.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Femoral fracture</span> Broken femur, at shaft or distally

A femoral fracture is a bone fracture that involves the femur. They are typically sustained in high-impact trauma, such as car crashes, due to the large amount of force needed to break the bone. Fractures of the diaphysis, or middle of the femur, are managed differently from those at the head, neck, and trochanter; those are conventionally called hip fractures. Thus, mentions of femoral fracture in medicine usually refer implicitly to femoral fractures at the shaft or distally.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tibial plateau fracture</span> Medical condition

A tibial plateau fracture is a break of the upper part of the tibia (shinbone) that involves the knee joint. Symptoms include pain, swelling, and a decreased ability to move the knee. People are generally unable to walk. Complication may include injury to the artery or nerve, arthritis, and compartment syndrome.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Pilon fracture</span> Medical condition

A pilon fracture, is a fracture of the distal part of the tibia, involving its articular surface at the ankle joint. Pilon fractures are caused by rotational or axial forces, mostly as a result of falls from a height or motor vehicle accidents. Pilon fractures are rare, comprising 3 to 10 percent of all fractures of the tibia and 1 percent of all lower extremity fractures, but they involve a large part of the weight-bearing surface of the tibia in the ankle joint. Because of this, they may be difficult to fixate and are historically associated with high rates of complications and poor outcome.

In the skeleton of humans and other animals, a tubercle, tuberosity or apophysis is a protrusion or eminence that serves as an attachment for skeletal muscles. The muscles attach by tendons, where the enthesis is the connective tissue between the tendon and bone. A tuberosity is generally a larger tubercle.


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