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How do you treat a fractured tibia?

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Quick Answer

Treatment for a fractured tibia can include casts, braces or surgery, depending on the type and severity of the break, reports the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. For instance, displaced fractures occur when the broken bones don't line up and need surgery for realignment.

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Full Answer

A stable tibia fracture often does not require surgery, explains the AAOS. After the swelling goes down, a doctor can splint the leg or put it in a cast or brace until it heals. A comminuted fracture occurs when the bone breaks or shatters into pieces, requiring surgery for reassembly and support until the bone completely mends. Transverse and oblique fractures, which occur when the bone breaks straight across or at an angle, can be unstable or slip during healing if not surgically put into place with specialized plates and screws.

A tibia fracture requires surgical treatment if is open or breaks the skin, according to the AAOS. This break can damage surrounding tissues, skin, tendons and muscles and requires surgery to prevent excessive swelling. Other surgical ways to treat a break include intramedullary nailing, a process in which a long nail runs the length of the inside of the tibia to hold the broken bone in place. External fixation or braces and pins used on the outside of the leg to help it mend are effective, yet unpopular.

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