This small bone bears only 17% of your body weight but if it’s fractured, you’ll be staying off your feet for a while.
Sprained ankles, fractured ankles, what’s the big deal? It’s one of the most common injuries known to man or woman. However, as any veteran of a fractured fibula can tell you, this one makes itself known.
Not only is it painful to rest your weight on a fractured fibula, but it’s also not advised as a method of self-diagnosis. The old-wives question, Can you rest your weight on the ankle? (to test if it’s broken) is not a good diagnostic tool.
Your first move if you’re feeling pain in the ankle should be to call the clinic. We will order x-rays to determine the nature and extent of the injury. Second, take the weight off. It does you no good to try to tough it out.
While the fibula is the smaller of two lower leg bones (the other is the tibia), it is somewhat vulnerable in contact sports such as football, soccer, or lacrosse. (There’s a reason for wearing shin guards in soccer.) The fibula has also been known to fracture in sports that involve twisting, such as basketball or skiing.
A good warm-up session and maintaining strength and flexibility in the legs are the best means of protection against fibular fractures. Patients with metabolic disorders, hormone problems or nutritional deficiencies have a greater risk.
Fibula Healing, Quickly and Completely
Fibular fracture treatment usually takes four to six weeks, as long as the patient doesn’t try to return to action too soon. Complications are uncommon, and include:
- Non-union of a bone that doesn’t ‘knit’ back together
- Bone heals in an awkward position
- The bone is shortened by the injury (this can happen in children)
- Surgery leads to infection, bleeding or injury to nerves (rare but not unknown)
- Pressure in the leg disrupts the blood supply, which results in injury to nerves and muscles
Fibula Treatment Should Begin Immediately
When a patient arrives in the clinic with an ankle injury, ice is applied to reduce swelling, and the leg is elevated. We may recommend a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug to relieve pain. Most patients are advised to use crutches. We may fit the patient with a brace or walking boot to immobilize the lower leg.
Most cases of fibular fracture, if there is not a complete break, can be treated conservatively. Whether or not there is surgery, strengthening and stretching exercises are prescribed to help you regain full range of motion.
Even if you are not experiencing severe pain, you do not want to take the risk of prolonging your broken fibula recovery process, re-injuring your leg without proper guidance, or having your fibula heal improperly (nonunion).
Give yourself the best chance of making a quick and full recovery by contacting your local orthopedic & sports medicine doctor the day that you experience your injury.
Our medical center rlbmed.com can give you a full diagnosis and treatment plan so that you can get back on the field as soon as possible. If you experienced a full break, you will require at least a medical boot to stabilize your leg to prevent further injury. If your fracture or break was severe enough, you will need surgery to realign and support your leg throughout a healthy recovery.
Achieving this care as soon as possible prevents the bone from further misalignment and gets the patient on the right track for a full recovery.
How to Rehab When You’re Off Your Feet
The physical therapist will demonstrate exercises that keep the blood flowing and help the tissues heal. The following are considered safe and appropriate for fibular rehab:
- grasp your foot and pull the foot towards you until you feel a gentle stretching at the top of the foot and ankle
- sitting with your ankle crossed over the opposite knee, push your foot downward and rotate it slightly
- while seated, imagine your big toe is a pen and write the alphabet in the air
For more information from the American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society on exercises for fibular fracture, check this website.
A fibular fracture can present challenges for patients who’d like to maintain their general conditioning. What can you do when you’re not allowed to walk?
If you are creative, there are ways to work out with only one working leg.
- Rowing, which builds the back, arms, shoulders, chest, and leg muscles
- Water exercises such as swimming
- Yoga, which can be as aerobic as you choose
- Training on an elliptical machine with one leg supported
- Floor exercises to work the muscles
Broken Fibula Recovery Takes Time
Athletes especially have a hard time accepting immobilizing injuries. With their bodies used to and designed for rigorous movement, it’s a challenge to be patient during a long 6 weeks recovery.
However, when it comes to bone breaks or fractures, you can’t simply mask the pain or play through it. Your body needs time to repair its injury and regain its strength. Attempting to rush the process against your doctor’s advice will only result in furthering your recovery time.
Utilize The Proper Medical Equipment
Orthopedic surgeons and sports medicine doctors are equipped with devices that their patients can utilize to properly immobilize their injured leg and hasten their recovery. It may not be much fun walking around with a boot or on crutches, but neither is re-injuring your leg or prolonging your recovery from your broken or fractured fibula. Take advantage of whatever medical equipment you can to maximize the success of your recovery and help yourself get back in play sooner.
Broken Fibula Recovery Tips For Athletes
For those of you that are suffering from a broken fibula and are itching to get back in the game, there are certainly no or low-impact exercises that can keep you in shape and active even while you are still recovering from your fibula injury.
Aside from the normal physical therapy exercises that can help stretch and strengthen your injured leg, there are full-body and other workouts that you can still do with one leg or while seated. Try these workouts to stay game-ready during your fractured fibula recovery:
- Yoga – Can be performed while seated, lying down, or standing and at the pace you choose.
- Swimming is not only the most effective full-body aerobic workout, but it’s also entirely no impact.
- Running with the assistance of an elliptical machine can provide valuable cardio without the impact that comes with running or jumping.
- Free weight or machine lifting – You can still keep your back, chest, and arms engaged while you’re rehabbing your broken fibula.
- Floor workouts – movements such as planks and push-ups can help you break a sweat without prolonging your recovery process.
Don’t put your broken fibula recovery up to fate. Call All-Pro Orthopedic & Sports Medicine to schedule your consultation today.