The lower leg structure is made up of two bones - the tibia and the fibula. These two bones are present in the lower leg to support the body weight. The tibia, which is the larger of the two bones, bears the maximum weight of the body. The fibula, which is the minor bone, is attached to the tibia with the help of muscles and ligaments. Since these bones need to balance and support the entire weight of the body, they are more susceptible to injuries.
The fibula bone, (or calf bone) is smaller in size and structure, in comparison with the tibia bone, hence injuries to this specific bone are not widespread. However, a wrong movement or extreme pressure on the leg can result in the fracture, which can be quite discomforting. Stress fracture is one of the types of bone fractures, which is seen commonly in athletes. It can be caused during a sports activity or if the leg gets twisted while running or jumping.
Fibula stress fracture can occur due to trauma or over-stretching of the bone. A strong blow directly on the leg can result in the cracking of the bone and end up as a fractured fibula. Overuse of the bones or strenuous activities are also one of the leading causes of this hairline fracture. This can be due to excessive stress on the muscles, owing to which the muscles may become fatigued and worn out. Wearing ill-fitting footwear can also make the individual more susceptible to such a fracture.
- Swelling and a blackish-blue appearing injured area, due to a ruptured vein, at the site of the fracture
- Pain in the entire leg, which may be aggravated even due to slight movement
- Appearance of bruises or ecchymosis
- Inability to make free leg movements, and the injured region may be tender to touch
Diagnosis and Treatment
Diagnostic test for this bone fracture may involve a thorough examination of the injured leg. An MRI, CT, or bone scan may be required to determine the exact location and severity of the fracture. The doctor may also inquire about the cause of the injury. He may also examine the medical history of the patient before administering a particular treatment. Once all the diagnostic tests are performed, the next step is to provide treatment to reduce the pain and swelling.
Painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs may be prescribed to reduce the pain and inflammation. The leg may be wrapped in a bandage or cast to immobilize it till recovery. Supportive boots can also help in speedy recovery from the injury. However, the healing time may largely depend on the severity of the injury. On an average, it can take approximately 15 weeks for the fracture to heal completely. In rare cases, the individual may have to undergo surgery for the complete restoration of the bone.
Physical therapy during rehabilitation is an important aspect of the treatment, since it speeds up the recovery process and also, stabilizes the broken bone. Routine activity must be resumed only after consulting an orthopedic.