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The tibia and fibula are the two long bones in the lower leg. They are closely linked at the knee and ankle, but they are two separate bones.
The tibia is the bone that forms the shin and is the larger of the two lower-leg bones. The top of the tibia connects to the knee joint and the bottom of the tibia connects to the ankle joint. Although this bone carries all the body’s weight, it needs support from the fibula.
The fibula forms the calf bone. It is the smaller bone of the two lower-leg bones and runs parallel to the tibia. The top end of the fibula is located below the knee joint but is not part of the joint itself. The lower end of the fibula forms the outer part of the ankle joint (it can usually be seen as the bony lump on the outside of the ankle). The fibula doesn’t carry much weight, but instead acts as a stabilizer for the tibia.
Although the tibia and fibula can break (fracture) independently from each other, it is more common for the two bones to break together (this is called a combined tibia/fibula fracture) because they are so close together, especially around the knee and ankle joints. When one bone is injured, it usually affects the other bone too.
The symptoms of a fractured tibia/fibula are serious and need immediate medical attention. With the proper treatment, fractured tibias/fibulas in children can heal completely.
The Orthopedic Center's Lower Extremity Program at Boston Children's Hospital offers comprehensive evaluation, expert diagnosis and treatment for fractured tibias/fibulas in children.
We are grateful to have been ranked #1 on U.S. News & World Report's list of the best children's hospitals in the nation for the third year in a row, an honor we could not have achieved without the patients and families who inspire us to do our very best for them. Thanks to you, Boston Children's is a place where we can write the greatest children's stories ever told.”