Tibia Disorders May Cause Knee Pain
The tibia is the long leg bone below the knee. Orthopedic specialists at Baylor Scott & White Orthopedic and Spine Hospital – Arlington report that a fractured shin bone remains the most common of all long bone fractures in the body.
Other tibia conditions and injuries include:
The proximal tibia refers to the part of the shin just below the knee. Fractures of the tibia can be straight breaks or break s in several pieces (comminuted fracture). An open fracture of the tibia breaks the skin and causes more damage to muscles, tendons and ligaments, with additional risk of infection.
When the fracture also causes the knee joint to separate, the condition is called an intra-articular or tibial plateau fracture. The top of the tibia consists of a softer “honeycombed” bone than that found in the lower part of the shin. If an injury drives the thigh bone down into the tibia, the result may be bone compression. Damaged tibial plateau can cause misalignment of the knee and leg, leading to instability, arthritis, and serious loss of mobility.
How Are Tibial Fractures Treated?
An orthopedic knee specialist should assess any knee or tibia injury. Notable symptoms of proximal tibia fracture may include knee or leg pain, swelling, inability to bend the knee, deformed appearance of the kneecap, and numbness in the foot.
Baylor Scott & White – Arlington offers a full-service orthopedic emergency department to treat tibial injuries 24/7. Diagnostic imaging will located the fracture and show the extent of the damage to the shin bone and knee joint. Then an orthopedic surgeon can recommend appropriate treatment options.
Orthopedic care for a broken tibia may include:
- Cleaning an open fracture to help prevent infection
- External fixation to a metal bar using pins and screws to hold broken bones in place until surgery can be done
- Fasciotomy incisions to release pressure of compartment syndrome, which can interrupt blood supply to the leg and foot
- Nonsurgical casting or bracing
- Surgery to correct the position of bone fragments, then secure them with a rod, plates and screws
- Removal of parts of the tibial bone when it is damaged by arthritis or injury (tibial osteotomy with closed wedge, tibial osteotomy with open wedge, or high tibial osteotomy)
- Tibial tubercle osteotomy to realign the kneecap with the tibia
- Bone graft to fill the gap in the tibia after bone fragments are removed
- External fixation as a final treatment to stabilize the tibia and allow the bone to heal
Other Knee Conditions Affecting the Tibia
Knee pain affecting the shin bone can also be caused by soft tissue injury, degenerative disease, and inflammation. For example, Osgood-Schlatter disease involves the area where the patellar tendon attaches to the shinbone.
Adolescents going through growth spurts may suffer from inflammation of the growth plate area of the leg. Activities such as running and jumping put stress on the shin bone, patellar tendon, knee joint, and attached muscles. This causes knee pain, swelling
at the tibial tubercle, and tight thigh muscles. Treatment for Osgood-Schlatter disease uses rest, strength conditioning, stretching and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication to reduce pain and swelling.
Runners, dancers, military recruits and people with flat feet may develop shin splints. This tibial disorder causes pain along the shin both during and after exercise, along with mild swelling. Shin splints can be treated effectively with pain medication, anti- inflammatory drugs, ice packs, compression, exercise, orthotics, plus the use of properly fitted shoes with arch support.
The tibia is also a key part of many effective knee replacement procedures. For example, a revision knee replacement to replace failed knee joint prosthesis may require removing some of the shinbone. This procedure is called revision knee with tibial tu bercle osteotomy. Orthopedic surgery to relieve knee pain from arthritis may also require tibial osteotomy (bone removal) with either closed wedge or open wedge techniques.
Orthopedic Surgeons Understand Tibia Conditions
To combat knee pain that involves conditions of the tibia, consult a physician who focuses on treating musculoskeletal injuries and disease. Baylor Scott & White – Arlington provides local access to experienced orthopedic specialists, knee surgeons, and physical therapy programs with access to advanced surgical facilities and the latest diagnostic imaging tools.
Call 855-41-ORTHO to make an appointment with an orthopedic doctor to treat your tibia pain and restore full mobility.