Christa R. Haggai, Attorney-at-Law
The Tibia and Fibula are the two long bones in the lower leg. The tibia is the larger, stronger bone and is sometimes referred to as the shin bone. The fibula is the smaller of the two bones, is sometimes referred to as the calf bone and, in proportion to its length, the most slender of all the long bones. Fractures may occur in one or both of these bones due to injury or impact. These fractures may be non-displaced [the bone is fractured but does not move out of place] or it may be displaced from its normal position. Displaced fractures may also be open or compound if the fractured bone penetrates the surrounding soft tissue and may sometimes open the skin, creating an open wound. In this case there is a need for immediate treatment, which is surgery. Fibula fractures often occur in conjunction with other bone, ligament and tendon injuries. A tibia fracture or fibula fracture can be caused in an automobile accident or a slip and fall.
Tibia or fibula fractures can be caused in automobile accidents.
Tibia or fibula fractures may also occur when a pedestrian or a bicyclists is struck by an automobile.
Tibia or fibula fractures are also common injuries in slip and fall accidents.
Casting – Casting is a technique for helping to immobilize a fracture. For fibula fractures the most common cast is a short leg cast for fibula fractures that occur near the ankle and long leg casts for fibular shaft fractures. The cast will be put on after the bone is aligned to help achieve a better alignment of the bones.
Splinting – Splinting is a technique usually used in the setting of a recent fracture. It is ideal under these circumstances as fractures are associated with swelling. The splint allows the fracture site to swell and not constrict the leg. Splinting is often done as a temporary immobilization before surgery or performed after surgical fixation of the fibular fracture.
External Fixation – This is a surgery performed under general anesthesia. Holes are drilled into uninjured areas of bones around the fracture and bolts or wires are screwed into the holes. Outside the body, a rod with ball-and-socket joints attaches the bolts to make a rigid support. The fracture can be set in the proper anatomical configuration by adjusting the ball-and-socket joints.
Open Reduction Internal Fixation — This is a surgery performed under general anesthesia. This surgery involves the surgical implantation of implants for the purposes of repairing the displaced fracture of the tibia or fibula. These implants may include stainless steel or titanium.
Pain management is also important for the treatment of these types of fractures. Patients often take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen or naproxen, acetaminophen and/or opioids.
Following any surgery, the patient will need fairly extensive physical therapy. This therapy will be necessary to help reduce stiffness and restore movement in the injured leg. The therapy may take several months for complete healing.