The fibula is a thin bone in the shin. The shin comprises two bones, the tibia, the wider and thicker bone, and the fibula, quite thin bone. This explains why any kind of severe injury or trauma to the shin actually leads to fracture of the fibula more than fracture of the tibia. Fractured fibula is a serious injury because the bone is surrounded by many blood vessels and nerves and bone fragments may cause damage to these structures. The actual length of recovery time after such fracture may extend up to 9-12 weeks.
Causes of Fibula Fracture
The fibula gets fractured due to rolling of the ankle, especially if significant weight bearing forces are involved. Furthermore, the fracture may occur due to an awkward landing from a jump or a fall. Fibular fracture may even result from a direct blow to the outer lower leg or the ankle. According to the previously mentioned it is obvious that this type of fracture is most commonly associated with sports injuries particularly if an individual is engaged in sports such as football, soccer, rugby, basketball etc. The risk of fibular fracture is increased in older people suffering from osteoporosis.
Symptoms of Fibula Fracture
This type of fracture is commonly associated with inflammation and softness of the lower part of the leg. Pain and discomfort occur almost instantly and they aggravate while walking or applying stress on the lower leg. At the very time of injury pain is usually described as sharp and intensive. It can be quite severe so that patients end up limping. The injured area is swollen, soon covered with bruises and tender to touch. In severe fractures accompanied by displacement of bone fractures one can notice obvious deformity at the injured site.
Treatment for Fibula Fracture
Fibula fracture can be treated conservatively and surgically. Fortunately, not all fractures will require surgical repair.
Conservative TreatmentConservative treatment is recommended in case of a small hairline fracture or a small avulsion fracture. It includes RICE principle, which means rest, ice (application of ice packs), compressions (wrapping of the injured shin in order to reduce swelling) and elevation of the injured leg.
Surgical TreatmentWhether surgical repair will be performed basically depends on the very fracture, its location and the stability of bone fragments. In case of their displacement surgery is a must. Surgery is also performed in case of spiral fractures, fractures with a gap and if there is accompanying fracture of the tibia.
Surgery is done immediately after the fracture has been confirmed. During the procedure the surgeon uses pins, plates and screw in order to achieve optimal fixation of bone fragments. The goal of the surgery is proper alignment of bone fragments and acceleration of healing. After the surgery patients use a cast, protective crutches or a boot for several weeks. The process of healing is evaluated with X-ray of the shin and soon after the surgery patients undergo physical therapy to regain muscle strength and restore the complete range of motion in the injured area.