Broken Leg

By | June 10, 2022

If there is restricted movement with swelling in the area of ​​the lower leg after a traffic accident or an accident during sports, a lower leg fracture may have occurred. Far more frequently, however, this injury occurs as an open fracture. Skiers and motorcyclists are very often affected.

What is a lower leg fracture

A lower leg fracture is a fracture of one or both long bones of the lower leg. A distinction is made between the tibia and the fibula. These two bones ensure the stability of the lower leg, with the tibia having to carry a large part of the body weight, while the fibula has a supporting function. For hfd basics, please visit

Lower leg fractures occur as a result of direct or indirect forces, which can often occur in accidents in sports, in the home or on the road. Depending on the type of fracture, a distinction is also made between compression fractures, bending fractures, torsional fractures and segmental fractures. All fracture types can occur as both open and closed lower leg fractures, but open fractures are far more common.

In the case of closed fractures, in addition to restricted movement with pronounced pain, there is also a malposition and swelling of the lower leg. An open fracture is an emergency that requires immediate medical attention.


The cause of a lower leg fracture is always a force on the affected lower leg area. A distinction is made between fractures on the shaft of the lower leg bones and fractures that are distant from the body. The shaft of the bone is stronger than its structure in sections distant from the body.

While the forces involved in a traffic accident can have a more pronounced effect on the bone than is the case in sports, fractures in the shaft of the bone occur primarily after traffic accidents, while fractures that are distant from the body occur more frequently after sports accidents. This type of lower leg fracture is a classic skiing injury.

Symptoms, Ailments & Signs

A fracture of the lower leg is usually always associated with symptoms and signs that can be diagnosed by the person concerned. In most cases, severe swelling occurs in connection with a lower leg fracture, which can be seen immediately in the affected area. If it is an open fracture of the lower leg, then of course the fracture is visible to the naked eye.

There is usually an audible crunch if the leg can be moved. Of course, with such a fracture, the entire movement is severely restricted, so that a normal gait is not possible at all. Even the smallest movements cause severe pain. For this reason, medical or inpatient treatment is essential to eliminate the symptoms described.

Anyone who refrains from medical and surgical treatment at this point runs a great risk. In such a case, the individual symptoms will worsen significantly. The pain increases, so that even at rest, a stabbing pain persists. If you don’t put off going to the doctor, you will feel an improvement within a short time. The symptoms that appear subside and nothing stands in the way of a full recovery.

Diagnosis & History

In the case of an open lower leg fracture, the diagnosis is confirmed by x-rays taken in two planes. As a result, further injuries can also be ruled out or detected. It can happen that blood vessels have been injured by the lower leg fracture. These can be examined using what is known as Doppler sonography. This is a painless ultrasound examination.

Vessels can also be visualized using so-called angiography. For this purpose, a contrast medium is injected into the affected blood vessels so that they can be seen in a subsequent X-ray. If injury to tendons and ligaments is suspected, an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) must provide information about the severity of the additional injuries.

If there is severe swelling of the lower leg, a compartment pressure measurement is often carried out. Any increase in pressure in the patient’s muscle tissue can lead to tissue damage or death in the area affected by the lower leg fracture.


First and foremost, those affected suffer from very severe pain when they fracture their lower leg. These can be so strong that the person concerned loses consciousness and may be injured again in another fall. Furthermore, the pain often spreads to the neighboring regions of the body.

There are considerable limitations in movement, so that the affected person is usually always dependent on the help of other people in their everyday life. In most cases, a lower leg fracture is an open fracture, which means that infections or inflammation can also occur. The affected regions are severely swollen and there is significant redness and bruising.

In most cases, complications only occur with a lower leg fracture if the fracture is not treated. This can lead to incorrect fusion of the bone. There are no complications with the treatment itself. By immobilizing the region, the symptoms are alleviated. This leads to a positive course of the disease. The life expectancy of the patient is usually not negatively affected by the lower leg fracture.

When should you go to the doctor?

If severe pain occurs in the leg area after a fall, violence or an accident, this should be monitored further. If the pain increases in intensity and extent or if it remains unchanged for a longer period of time, a doctor’s visit is advisable. If the foot can no longer be placed on the ground without symptoms after the triggering event, this is unusual. The patient should be examined and treated. Disorders of locomotion, restriction of freedom of movement and a sudden decrease in physical performance are signs of an existing disease.

A doctor is needed because a fracture of the lower leg is unlikely to heal spontaneously. If there are optical changes in the bones in the area of ​​the lower leg or if there are abnormalities in the complexion, this is a sign of a health irregularity. If bruising or tenderness develops, further tests are necessary to clarify the cause and make the diagnosis.

If the person concerned can no longer shift their own weight on one of their legs without symptoms, they need help. If physical activities can no longer be carried out as usual and if there are sensory disturbances in the leg or feet, a doctor should be consulted. Circulatory disorders and tingling on the skin are further signs of an existing irregularity.

Treatment & Therapy

The treatment of a lower leg fracture depends on the severity of the injury and the other accompanying injuries to tendons, ligaments or vessels. All open fractures are surgically treated. This also applies to displaced fractures in the area of ​​the tibia and fractures with additional injuries to the ankle.

The broken bone can be stabilized with an intramedullary nail. Plates and screws can also be used. An external fixator, the so-called external fixator, ensures the stability of the fracture site by means of externally attached screws and rods. If the muscles and connective tissue are injured, several operations are necessary to reconstruct the damaged soft tissue.

Open fractures often require the patient to take an antibiotic. In order to restore the mobility of the fractured lower leg, physiotherapeutic exercises must be started after healing. Simpler fractures of the tibia, where the bone ends have not shifted against each other, and fractures of the fibula can be treated with a plaster cast, in which the lower leg fracture can heal in four to six weeks without further consequences for the patient.


Since a lower leg fracture usually occurs as a result of an external force, there are no direct measures to prevent this injury. By choosing the right sports equipment for skiing and appropriate motorcycle clothing, injuries associated with a lower leg fracture such as involvement of the ankle or injuries to tendons and ligaments can at best be reduced.


Regular checks of the lower leg using X-ray examinations are an indispensable measure to assess bone healing. Complications such as misalignments or delays in fracture healing can thus be detected at an early stage. Otherwise, the aftercare of the patient depends on whether the lower leg fracture was treated conservatively (without surgery) or surgically.

In the conservative procedure, a plaster cast usually has to be worn for four to six weeks. Anticoagulant medication is administered during immobilization to prevent thrombosis (blockage of blood vessels by blood clots). Physiotherapy can only begin after the cast has been removed.

If the fracture was surgically treated with nails, screws or plates, physiotherapeutic measures can begin a few days after the operation. The materials introduced must be surgically removed after 12 to 18 months in a second operation. This requires an additional hospital stay. In the case of complicated fractures, additional surgical interventions may be necessary due to misalignment or joint instability.

The basis for effective restoration of health is rehabilitation (rehab). After the bones have healed, the load-bearing capacity of the leg is continuously increased through physiotherapy. Systematic gait training is intended to prevent malpositions when walking. Further goals of rehabilitation are strengthening the muscles of the lower leg and promoting mobility.

You can do that yourself

An uncomplicated thigh fracture usually heals quickly. The patient must take it easy and carry out the physiotherapy according to the doctor’s instructions. An active lifestyle is optimal, whereby the injured limb must be excluded from sports and stretching measures. Smokers stop consuming cigarettes, and it is also important to largely avoid stimulants such as alcohol or caffeine.

After a fracture, a change in diet is recommended. A diet rich in vitamins and fiber is important. Calcium and vitamin D supplements as well as omega-3 fatty acids and curcumin also contribute to fracture healing. Proven remedies are linseed oil, krill oil and various types of fish, eggs and gently prepared fruit and vegetables. The blood circulation in the fracture zone and thus the recovery is stimulated by shock wave therapy, magnetic field therapy and laser radiation. If these measures are followed, the lower leg fracture should heal quickly. The doctor must be informed about the state of health and any complaints so that the therapy can be adjusted and the healing process optimally supported.

If complications such as pain or numbness occur, the responsible doctor must be informed. Self-help also includes taking the prescribed painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs properly. Certain medications such as diclofenac or ibuprofen interfere with bone metabolism and should only be taken after consulting a doctor.

Broken Leg