Broken Tibia/Fibula (Shin bone/Calf) | Treatments

What are the treatment options for tibia/fibula fractures?

The treatments for broken tibia/fibula in children depend on the location, complexity and severity of your child's break — as well as age and overall health. Fractures of the fibula are usually placed in a lower leg and ankle cast for six to eight weeks to immobilize the bone. Your child may also be advised not to bear any weight on the leg so the bone can heal properly; crutches may be provided in this case.

Surgical options

In severe or complicated fractures, a surgeon may insert metal rods or pins into the bone (internal fixation) or outside the body (external fixation) to hold bone fragments in place to allow for alignment and to help the bone heal.

For children who are older than 5 but don't yet have mature “adult” bones, the surgeon can perform a minimally invasive technique in which flexible nails are inserted into the bone through small incisions in the skin. These flexible nails realign the bone and hold it in place, while still allowing growth and natural remodeling. This allows the child to begin walking right away.

In adolescence through adulthood, a rigid nail may be inserted. This also allows the patient to walk immediately. Both flexible and rigid nails can either remain in place permanently or be removed.

Non-surgical options

Physical therapy may be needed to strengthen the leg, restore gait and range of motion and help it return to full function after treatment and/or casting.

How long after treatment will it take for my child to heal?

Every situation is different, and children heal relatively fast. In general, recovery for a tibia/fibula fracture takes about three to six months while stress fractures usually take six to eight weeks.

The healing time can be quicker by taking the right steps. Rest is crucial, and it's important to make sure that your child doesn't overstress (overload) the site of the fracture until the bone's strength is fully restored, which can take up to a year. A cast for the tibia/fibula fracture also helps to speed healing. Overall, a tibia and fibula fracture can definitely be handled through proper care, casts and medicines.