Shinbone Fracture

A shinbone fracture is a break in the tibia. The lower leg has two bones that connect the knee to the ankle: the tibia and the fibula. The tibia is the larger of the two bones and runs on the inside of the lower leg. The fibula is much smaller and runs along the outside of the lower leg.

  • Causes

    A shinbone fracture is caused by trauma to the shinbone. Trauma includes:

    • Falls
    • Twists
    • Blows
    • Collisions
    • Gunshot wounds

  • Definition

    A shinbone fracture is a break in the tibia. The lower leg has two bones that connect the knee to the ankle: the tibia and the fibula. The tibia is the larger of the two bones and runs on the inside of the lower leg. The fibula is much smaller and runs along the outside of the lower leg.

    Fractured Leg
    Nucleus factsheet image
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  • Diagnosis

    The doctor will ask about your symptoms, physical activity, and how the injury occurred. The doctor will examine the injured area.

    Imaging tests may include:

    • X-rays
      to look for a break in the bone
    • CT scan
      may be needed for more detailed views

  • Prevention

    To help reduce your chance of shinbone fractures, take these steps:


    • Do
      weight-bearing
      and strengthening exercises
      regularly to build strong bones.
    • Wear proper padding and safety equipment when participating in sports or activities.
    • Do not put yourself at risk for trauma to the bone.

    To help reduce falling hazards at work and home, take these steps:

    • Clean spills and slippery areas right away
    • Remove tripping hazards such as loose cords, rugs, and clutter
    • Use non-slip mats in the bathtub and shower
    • Install grab bars next to the toilet and in the shower or tub
    • Put in handrails on both sides of stairways
    • Walk only in well-lit rooms, stairs, and halls
    • Keep flashlights on hand in case of a power outage

  • Risk Factors

    Factors that may increase your chance of getting a shinbone fracture include:

    • Advancing age
    • Osteoporosis

    • Certain diseases or conditions that result in bone or mineral loss, such as abnormal or
      absent
      menstrual cycles, or post-
      menopause
    • Certain diseases and conditions that weaken bones, such as tumors or cysts
    • Decreased muscle mass

    • Playing certain sports that may result in:

      • Spiral fractures—associated with collisions or falls from sports such as soccer or skiing
      • Stress fractures—associated with overuse or repetitive motion from sports such as gymnastics or dance
    • Violence, such as car or car-pedestrian accidents

  • Symptoms

    Shinbone fracture may cause:

    • Pain that ranges from mild to severe, but worsens with activity
    • Swelling, inflammation, and tenderness
    • Bruising in the injured area
    • Decreased range of motion of the knee or ankle
    • Limping
    • Inability to bear weight on the fractured leg

  • Treatment

    Proper treatment can prevent long-term complications or problems with your shinbone. Treatment will depend on how serious the fracture is, but may include: