Lower leg fracture

If more pressure is put on a bone than its stability allows, it will break in one or more places. In the case of the lower leg, the shin bone or calf bone (fibula) can break.

Overview

If more pressure is put on a bone than its stability allows, it will break in one or more places. In the case of the lower leg, the shin bone or calf bone (fibula) can break. A fracture causes severe pain and swelling, and sometimes a misalignment is visible. For such injuries, the lower leg must be splinted, immobilised and cooled, and a doctor must be consulted immediately.

Symptoms

Main symptoms

  • Pain, swelling and bruising (haematoma)
  • Limited movement of the lower leg
  • Misalignment or abnormal position of the bone (e.g. twisted, torsioned, shortened)

Other symptoms

  • Injury to neighbouring structures
    • Blood vessels: heavy bleeding
    • Nerves: sensory disturbances, paralysis (typical: foot can't be raised)
  • Risk of infection if open fracture

Causes and treatment

Causes

  • Receiving a blow, falling, twisting (accident)
  • Pathologic fracture: bone weakened by osteoporosis can break during normal everyday activities

Further treatment by your doctor / in hospital

Possible tests
  • X-ray
  • CT scan (computed tomography)
  • MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)
Possible therapies
  • Painkillers
  • Immobilisation (e.g. plaster cast or splint)
  • Operation (e.g. plates attached with screws to hold the broken bones together)

What can I do myself?

  • Try to move the fractured area as little as possible, stabilise and immobilise the injured leg
  • Cooling
  • Cushion the updrawn or bent leg
  • Exercises after the operation/application or removal of the plaster cast

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When to see a doctor?

  • Severe pain
  • Severe swelling
  • Big bruise (haematoma)
  • If bones are abnormally positioned or abnormally mobile
  • Injuries with open wounds, parts of the bone may be visible

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Exclusion of liability

CSS offers no guarantee for the accuracy and completeness of the information. The information published is no substitute for professional advice from a doctor or pharmacist.

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