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Broken Shin

Broken Shin

Definition

A shinbone fracture is a break in the tibia. The tibia is the larger of 2 bones in the lower leg that connects the knee to the ankle. It runs on the inside of the lower leg. The fibula is much smaller and runs along the outside of the lower leg.

Fractured Leg
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Causes

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

  • Falls
  • Twists
  • Blows
  • Collisions
  • Gunshot wounds

Risk Factors

Factors that may increase the chance of a shinbone fracture include:

  • Increased age
  • Osteoporosis
  • Certain diseases or conditions that result in bone or mineral loss, such as abnormal or absent menstrual cycles
  • Having gone through 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

Diagnosis

You will be asked about your symptoms, physical activity, and how the injury occurred. The injured area will be examined.

The bones of your lower leg may need to be viewed. This can be done with:

  • X-rays
  • CT scan

Treatment

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

Prevention

To help reduce your chance of a shinbone fracture:

  • 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.
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