What is tibial plateau fracture?

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The tibial plateau is the upper surface of the tibia. It is important to note that it is susceptible to fractures particularly during high velocity accidents such as those linked with horse riding, skiing and certain water sports.


The individual might have a recent history of trauma to the knee that is followed by inflammation and joint pain. The individual will complain of knee stiffness and inability to bear weight on the affected leg. To learn to recognize and manage bone injuries including fractures, sign up for first aid training with a credible provider near you.

Overview on a tibial plateau fracture

Tibial plateau-fracture
The individual will complain of knee stiffness and inability to bear weight on the affected leg.

The fractures involving the tibial plateau are considered serious injuries since the upper surface of the bone is comprised of structures that are vital to the overall functioning of the knee. Due to this, fractures on the tibial plateau are often linked with injuries to the anterior cruciate ligament, menisci, collateral ligaments and the articular cartilage. The damage even though can be repaired will put the knee joint at risk for early onset of osteoarthritis, especially among young individuals.


Getting enough rest and application of an ice pack along with compression can help minimize the swelling and pain. Once these measures are carried out, the individual should seek medical care right away.

The doctor will request an X-ray to properly diagnose a fracture. In case damage to the soft tissue is suspected, an MRI scan will be carried out. Once a tibial plateau fracture is determined, there are a number of treatment options available depending on the severity of the damage sustained.

How tibial plateau fractures are classified

Surgically, there are various classifications of tibial plateau fractures which depend on the nature and severity of the injury. Nevertheless, fractures on the tibial plateau can be categorized into two major groups.

Non-displaced tibial plateau fracture

When it comes to a non-displaced fracture on the tibial plateau, the tibia sustains a crack or break without the separation of a bone fragment. Remember that these fractures typically have a better outcome than the displaced fractures and typically heal without requiring surgical intervention within 3-4 months. During this time frame, the individual might be required to avoid weight bearing and use a knee brace on the affected knee. Physical therapy is needed in order to maintain leg strength right after the injury and must be continued throughout the phase of recovery.

Displaced tibial plateau fracture

A displaced fracture involves the breakage of bone into two or more fragments. Surgery is required in order to fix the fragments in place to promote proper healing of the bone tissue. The fixation is achieved by the placement of screws or plates in and around the bone fragments to secure them in place. The recovery period after the surgery will take a number of months and will require the individual to avoid weight bearing for a long period of time. In case there is damage to the soft tissues, the recovery period will last even longer.

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