Proximal Tibia Fracture
Proximal Tibia fractures encompass both fractures of the tibial neck and fractures of the tibial plateau. The lower leg contains two bones, the fibula and the tibia. The tibia bears the load of your body weight and the fibula supports the tibia for rotational movements for changing the direction of the foot. Fracturing the tibia removes the ability for you to bear weight and may change the shape of your leg entirely. Most fractures of the proximal tibia require surgical correction to regain the weight bearing ability of the leg and to have a proper range of motion.
Causes of a Proximal Tibia Fracture
It takes a large amount of force to fracture a tibia. Most often the fracture will stem from a sports related injury, fall, or vehicle collision. Depending on the type and placement of the impact fracture patterns can vary from simple to complex. However, most proximal tibia fractures require surgical intervention. Some fractures called tibial plateau fractures extend into the intra-articular space of the knee. Fractures of this nature always require surgical intervention to recover proper leg shape, weightbearing capacity, and range of motion.
Conservative Treatment of Proximal Tibia Fractures
If a proximal tibia fracture is stable enough, or the patient is too sick to have it repaired an orthopedic surgeon will put on a cast that used for at least six weeks to allow the bone to heal. After six weeks the physician inspects the healing process with x-ray conformation and will cut the cast off to replace it with a removable splint. With a removable splint the patient can attend physical therapy to increase range of motion without bearing weight for at least an additional six weeks. Most patients that undergo conservative treatment walk without assistance by month four.
Surgical Treatment of Proximal Tibia Fractures
For patients that need surgery but are either not healthy enough to risk it or have infection risk due to tissue damage your surgeon may externally fixate your fracture. Otherwise an open surgery to internally fixate the fracture with the use of rods, plates, and screws. Many different variations of internal fixation exist to fit the specific needs of the specific types of fractures that occur.
Recovery from a Proximal Tibia Fracture
Recovery takes about three months before you can bear weight on the repaired limb. After about six weeks your surgeon evaluates if you can swap out a hard cast for a removable splint and begin physical therapy. Most patients walk without assistance after four months.