Tibial shaft fracture

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A tibial shaft fracture is likely to occur after falls, vehicular accidents or during sports. Once a fracture occurs, the bone is damaged, and the stability of the leg is compromised. In most cases, the injury can be quite painful and requires prompt medical care.

What are the indications?

A tibial shaft fracture is an evident injury but if the injury is non-displaced, it is hard to identify.

The usual indications of a tibial shaft fracture include:

  • Intense leg pain or discomfort in the extremity
  • Tenderness on the site of injury
  • Deformity of the leg
  • Inability to place any weight on the leg
    Tibial shaft fracture
    Intense leg pain or discomfort in the extremity.

If an individual is suspected with the injury, an X-ray is taken to check if the bone is damaged.

There are instances in which the injury requires emergency care, especially if there is an open fracture where the tibia bone pierced the skin.

Management of a tibial shaft fracture

A tibial shaft fracture can be treated using various methods depending on the type and alignment of the bone.

Generally, most cases are managed with a cast or brace. Nevertheless, there is an increased preference for invasive measures involving surgical stabilization of the fracture. The reason for this is that the techniques have lowered the potential risks of surgery and provides a predictable healing period of the injury.

The commonly used treatment options for a tibial shaft fracture include:

  • Cast – this is only suitable for fractures that are not significantly displaced and well-aligned. A cast is applied above the knee and beneath the ankle. An advantage with this approach is that the fracture can heal properly as well as avoiding the possible risks of surgery such as infection. An X-ray is taken regularly to ensure that the bone is healing properly.
  • Intramedullary rodding – this procedure involves the placement of a metal rod in the middle of the tibia to secure the bone alignment. The procedure provides an effective fixation and alignment to the bones.
  • Screws and plates – this approach is seldom used but useful in certain injuries especially if near the knee or ankle joints.
  • External fixator – this might be useful in certain forms of fractures. The technique is suitable for severe fractures especially those linked with soft tissue damage and lacerations.

Quick Note / Disclaimer

The material posted on this page on a tibial shaft fracture is for learning and educational purposes only. To learn to recognize the signs and how it is managed, register for a first aid and CPR course with Victoria First Aid.

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