Fractures of the Shinbone


The shin bone’s connected to the… uh oh, what happens when it’s not?

Getting kicked in the shin is just one of those experiences that most kids go through. It’s a good lesson actually – it hurts a lot and teaches us to take care of our shins. Unfortunately, though, that lesson doesn’t really sink in as surprisingly, the tibia (or shinbone as it’s commonly called) is the most commonly fractured long bone in your body. Long bones – such as the humerus, fibula, tibia, and femur – require a significant force to fracture; this often means that other injuries occur when this damage is done too.



What is the Tibia?

The tibia is the larger of two major bones making up the lower leg, the other being the fibula. Obviously, these two bones carry a lot more weight than other bones, so a fracture there is a major health issue. Such fractures can dramatically impact the motion and stability of the knee bone, and in fact, these types of injuries often spread past the knee and down to the ankles. Resulting lesions due to bone fracture can injure the surrounding soft tissue that connects and surround other internal structures.



Symptoms of a fracture

If you have any concerns that you have fractured your shinbone, it’s imperative to seek emergency medical treatment immediately. Common shinbone fracture symptoms include:

  • Difficulty walking
  • Knee, shin and ankle area deformities
  • Trouble standing on the injured leg (though it is possible to stand on a featured shin bone)
  • Intense pain

The physician will need as much information as you can provide to correctly assess the injury – details about the activity that lead to the fracture, your personal and family medical history, previous injuries and medications that you’ve been taking. The doctor may include x-rays to check for broken/displaced bone injuries and to determine how many pieces the broken has broken into. As well, CT (computed tomography) scans can be run to determine if the fracture has extended to the knee or ankle.



Most common causes

The most common causes of a shinbone fracture occur due to a collision between pedestrians and automobile/moving vehicles. Other common scenarios include sports injuries and fall from great heights – particularly scenarios where the body is twisting or in an unstable position



Even toddlers aren’t immune

Did you know that learning to walk is a surprisingly risky venture? Though we obviously encourage learning to walk,  toddlers (1 – 3 years of age) can fracture the shin bone if they trip over a toy or fail to navigate stairs while learning to walk. Fractures like this usually do not break the skin (if they do such injuries are commonly referred to as a compound fracture) but will definitely cause acute pain and swelling. Bone scans may be needed to verify the injury but these fractures heal quickly and can be treated by a short weight bearing cast to help the child recover faster.



Treatment & Next Steps

These types of fractures can take a long to heal for the non-toddlers among us. You may need to use crutches and avoid placing any weight on the leg for several weeks. You can count on closed fractures to take 5 or 6 months to heal, and severe open fractures may take 9 months or more.

It’s really important to choose your orthopedic surgical care provider wisely. At Coastal Orthopedics sports medicine and pain management, we recommend you take your time and get referrals from friends and families, check if the surgeon is board-certified, and make a consultation appointment to meet and interview each orthopedic surgeon. Take the time to make sure your confident that your proposed surgeon knows your case and is focused on providing you with the personalized care that will meet your specific and unique individual needs.


Think you Fractured Your Shin Bone? Contact a Specialist Today

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