LEG FRACTURE, FIBULA
DESCRIPTIONA leg fracture of the fibula is a complete or incomplete break in the smaller of the two bones of the lower leg. Fractures of the fibula are not uncommon, and displacement is seldom severe. These fractures sometimes accompany severe ankle sprains. See also Leg Fracture, Tibia.
Appropriate health care includes:
Doctor's diagnosis. Setting of the fracture is usually not necessary.
SIGNS & SYMPTOMSSevere pain at the fracture site.
Swelling of soft tissue surrounding the fracture.
Visible deformity if the fracture is complete and bone fragments separate enough to distort the child's normal leg contours.
Tenderness to the touch.
Numbness or coldness in the child's foot if the blood supply is impaired.
Direct blow or indirect stress to the bone. Indirect stress may be caused by the child twisting or turning quickly, or by a violent muscle contraction.
RISK FACTORSContact sports such as football, soccer, or hockey.
History of bone or joint disease.
PREVENTING COMPLICATIONS OR RECURRENCEYour child should build adequate muscle strength and achieve good conditioning prior to exercise, athletic practice, or competition. Increased muscle mass helps protect a child's bones and underlying tissue.
MEDICAL TESTSX-rays of injured areas, including the knee and ankle.
Pressure on or injury to nearby nerves, ligaments, tendons, muscles, blood vessels, or connective tissues.
Delayed union or non-union of the fracture.
Impaired blood supply to the fracture site.
Arrest of normal bone growth in a child.
Shortening of the child's injured bones.
Prolonged healing time if the child resumes activity too soon.
Proneness to repeated injury.
The average healing time for this fracture is 4 to 6 weeks.
Keep the child warm with blankets to decrease the possibility of shock.
Cut away clothing, if possible. Don't move the injured area to remove clothing.
Follow instructions for R.I.C.E., the first letters of rest, ice, compression, and elevation. See Appendix 39 for details.
Setting the broken bone for a fibula fracture is usually not necessary. The tibia (the big bone adjacent to the fibula) provides immobilization. A fibula fracture usually requires only a snug, toe-to-knee cotton elastic bandage. If pain is severe, a walking plaster cast below the child's knee may be necessary for about 5 weeks.
After the bandage or cast is removed, use frequent ice massage.
Provide the child with whirlpool treatments, if available.
MEDICATIONNarcotic or synthetic narcotic pain relievers for severe pain.
Stool softeners to prevent constipation due to inactivity.
Acetaminophen (available without prescription) for mild pain after initial treatment.
See Medications section for information regarding medicines your doctor may prescribe.
Your doctor may prescribe:
ACTIVITYActively exercise all muscle groups not immobilized. These muscle contractions promote fracture alignment and hasten healing. Use ice massage for 10 minutes before and after workouts.
Begin walking and light running when there is no pain or tenderness.
Resume normal activities gradually after treatment.
Instructions for your child:
DIET & FLUIDS
Your child should eat a well-balanced diet.
OK TO GO TO SCHOOL?Yes, when condition and sense of well-being allow.
CALL YOUR DOCTOR IF
Your child has signs or symptoms of a leg fracture.
Any of the following occur after surgery or other treatment:
-- Signs of infection (headache, muscle aches, dizziness, or a general ill feeling and fever).
-- Swelling above or below the bandage or cast.
-- Change in the child's skin color to blue or gray beyond the cast, particularly under the toenails.
-- Numbness or complete loss of feeling below the fracture site.
-- Nausea or vomiting.