Proximal tibia fractures

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When there is a break or fracture in the shinbone right under the knee, it is called as a proximal tibia fracture. It is important to note that the proximal tibia is the higher part of the bone where it broadens in order to shape the knee joint. Aside from the fractured bone, the soft tissues can also be damaged during the time of injury. The broken bone and damaged soft tissues must be treated together. In most cases, surgery is the best option to restore motion, strength and stability to the leg as well as minimize the risk for developing arthritis.

Types of proximal tibia fractures

There are various forms of proximal tibia fractures. The bone might break straight transversely the bone or into several pieces. Oftentimes, these fractures can extend up to the knee joint and separate the bone surface into several parts.

The exterior surface of the tibia is made out of cancellous bone which is softer than the thicker bone in the lower tibia. The fractures that involve this area occur when a strong force drives the lower end of the femur into the soft bone. The impact will cause the cancellous bone to compress and remain sunken.

Proximal tibia fracture
Pain that is aggravated when weight is placed on the affected leg

Remember that proximal tibia fractures can be closed or open. When it comes to an open fracture, the bone breaks in a way in which it sticks out of the skin. This type of fracture can cause extensive damage to the surrounding tendons, muscles and ligaments and puts the individual at risk for infection and takes a long time to fully heal.

What are the symptoms?

  • Pain that is aggravated when weight is placed on the affected leg
  • Swelling around the knee and diminished ability to bend the joint
  • Pale, cool foot which indicates impaired blood supply
  • Deformity
  • Numbness around the foot

If any of these symptoms are present after an injury, it is important to bring the individual to the nearest emergency department for proper assessment. You can learn more about pain management measures if you will register for first aid training today.

How proximal tibia fractures are diagnosed

The doctor will ask how the injury occurred and discuss the symptoms and medical issues. The doctor will assess the soft tissue that surrounds the knee joint and check for bruising, swelling and open wounds as well as determine if the nerve and blood supply to the leg or foot is affected. Other tests that are requested include an X-ray, CT scan and MRI.


A proximal tibia fracture is usually managed non-surgically or surgically. Remember that there are risks and benefits with both forms of treatment that you should be aware of.

The preferred treatment is accordingly based on the injury type and the general needs of the individual. The doctor will take into consideration the expectations, medical conditions and lifestyle of the individual. For active individuals, restoration of the joint function through surgery is the best option to maximize the motion and stability of the joint as well as minimize the risk for developing arthritis.

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