Lower leg fractures (broken leg) commonly occur from car accidents and motorcycle accidents, as well as some contact sports, such as football and rugby. In auto accidents, not wearing a seat belt correlates well with this injury, since the lower leg is thrown violently against the dash, in frontal collisions. Twisting injuries called spiral tibial fractures may occur while making sharp cuts or turns in football, soccer, and the like. The fracture line tends to look something like a corkscrew. The lower leg is especially vulnerable to injuries from motorcycle falls, where the leg is pinned under the cycle.
Broken Leg Broken Tibia vs. Broken Fibula
The lower leg consists of two long bones. The tibia is the stout, somewhat triangular-shaped bone (in cross-section), that does the load-carrying work. The fibula is a thin, long bone, which attaches at the knee and ankle to the outside of the tibia. It is difficult to fracture the bigger bone without fracturing the smaller one, but the reverse is not necessarily true. A peculiar fracture combination is one of the lower large bone at the ankle and the smaller thin bone at the knee. This is caused by a turning-out of the foot type injury (eversion).
Broken Leg Complications
Of all the long bones of the body, the tibia is the one that most frequently will not unite the two broken ends with normal healing, in spite of the best treatment techniques. This often results in prolonged hospitalization. Dangerous conditions associated with tibial fractures include a missed torn artery, increased pressure in the tightly-restrictive compartments of the lower leg (compartment syndrome), and injury to the peroneal nerve, which leads to a foot drop, or inability to lift the toes of the foot, while walking. This creates a very abnormal slapping gait. The pressure syndrome can lead to the severe restriction of oxygen to muscles and nerves below the fracture, and eventually gangrene, or even amputation or death. Infections that get into the tibia, especially from open wounds over the fracture, can be extremely resistant to treatment. Motorcycle injuries can be particularly dirty ones, since the leg may be dragged under the motorcycle for some distance. Sometimes little fragments of fat in the soft tissues of the lower leg will get into the bloodstream, causing occlusion of vessels. Fractures of the tibia are a virtual minefield of things that can go wrong. Casts that are applied may compromise circulation in the lower leg and may compound the effects of the occasional compartment syndrome.
Broken Leg Treatment and Recovery
To bear weight normally, the tibia must heal in a good position. This often requires that one have pins placed into the bones to put them in position, and then traction equipment can be used to hold the alignment. Lengthy bed confinement and all the problems with being immobile then ensue. Even when everything goes well, the healing time for a broken leg can be long and difficult. The emotional stress of the whole package is taxing. Major disruptions in work and sports is the usual course. So many things can be overlooked by the physician right after the broken leg injury that extreme diligence is a must. Prompt orthopedic consultation and aggressive treatment is mandatory, or permanent disability results.
Contact a Lawyer About Your Fractured / Broken Leg
If you have suffered a broken leg as a result of a motorcycle or a car accident, or negligence of others, Parker Scheer recommends that you consult with a personal injury lawyer and evaluate your case. For your free confidential case review click here and receive a response from one of our attorneys within hours. If you prefer, you can also telephone our offices in Boston seven days a week at toll-free.