Broken Tibia/Fibula (Shin bone/Calf) | Symptoms and Causes

What are the symptoms of a tibia/fibula fracture?

Generally, a tibia/fibula fracture is associated with:

  • pain or swelling in the lower leg area
  • an obvious deformity or uneven leg lengths
  • inability to stand or walk (more likely with tibia; less likely if only the fibula is broken)
  • limited range of motion in the knee or ankle area
  • bruising or discoloration (may indicate damage to blood vessels)

What causes a tibia/fibula fracture in children?

Fractures happen when there’s more force applied to the bone than it can withstand.

A lower-leg fracture usually happens due to a “high-energy” force from falls, trauma or a direct blow. These are often caused by motor vehicle crashes or by direct contact or sudden twisting in sports. Whenever there is a trauma to the leg, the impact spreads between the tibia and fibula. Because both bones absorb the blow, the impact usually results in a combined tibia /fibula fracture.

A stress (hairline) fracture may also occur in the fibula, although it is far less common than stress fractures to the tibia, which is a weight-bearing bone. Stress   fractures in the tibia/fibula are likely to be caused by repetitive motion from running, ballet, baseball and basketball.

Certain risk factors may also increase a child’s chances of getting a broken tibia/fibula.