What Is the Lateral Condyle?

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  • Originally Written By: Nicki Howell
  • Revised By: C. Mitchell
  • Edited By: J.T. Gale
  • Last Modified Date: 09 October 2016
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In human anatomy, the lateral condyle is one of two bony knobs in the upper leg that form the knee. The first is attached to the tibia, which is in the lower leg; the second is on the femur, also known as the “thigh bone,” and is in the upper leg. In general, a condyle is a protrusion or knob that helps bones attach to each other while also giving ligaments, tendons, and muscles a place to anchor and wrap themselves. The lateral name is usually assigned only to the knobs and subsequent areas they create in and around the human knee. The condyle from the tibia generally fits into that of the femur, and together they give the knee joint strength, support, and, to an extent, shape. Like most joints, though, the knee is often prone to injury, and the protrusions of each condyle often attract fractures more than other, more protected parts of the leg. Treatment of condyle injuries is normally pretty straight forward, though prompt care is normally required to avoid permanent damage or joint disruption.


Precise Location

In the human body, the lateral condyle is located on the lower part of the femur and the upper part of the tibia. The femur, also called the thigh bone, is responsible for aiding the body in basic functions such as walking, jumping, and running. It originates in the pelvis and descends down to the knee, where it joins, thanks to various ligaments and tendons, with the tibia. Located below the knee, the tibia is a bone that is responsible for connecting the ankle bones to the knee.

Main Function

In general, the main role of any condyle is to articulate, or connect, with another bone, usually in order to form a joint. The lateral condyle is no exception. As far as joints go the human knee is one of the most complex, with a lot of involved parts and pieces. It’s usually made up primarily of both the lateral and medial condyles of the tibia and femur, though the fibula, which is also a lower leg bone, has condyles that contribute as well.

Common Injuries

Fractures and other injuries to this specific part of the leg bones are somewhat common, particularly in children. Patients often are between six and ten years old; there are a couple of theories when it comes to why this age range sees the most injuries, but it’s usually thought to be related to the childrens’ quick growth during this period and the lack of balance that sometimes brings, as well as the bone’s rapid formation. The joints may still be growing into themselves, in other words. Fractures here and elsewhere in and around the knee can be tricky to repair because they are unstable and can be difficult to fully immobilize. For this reason, patients usually need to be extra diligent about keeping weight off the affected area.

Formal classification of the injury is usually based on how far or how extensively the bone is fractured. The classification typically ranges from I to III, depending on the severity of the injury. Types of treatment typically will vary based on the extent of the injury.

Treatment Options

If a condyle fracture happens in the femur, a doctor may repair the injury by placing metal screws in the bone. This holds the fracture together until it is completely healed. Casts and splints are usually a lot harder to use on the upper leg. For more serious damage to the bone, a replacement bone or bone portion may be required. This can occur when misalignment from the injury is severe.

Treatment for fractures in the tibia more often include setting the leg in a plaster cast or splint, though a lot of this depends on the orientation of the injury and other specifics. A doctor also may provide a muscle relaxant, which can decrease swelling and pain before the procedure. Movement usually should be restricted during the healing period, and crutches might be necessary for up to eight weeks. Physical therapy also may be needed for serious fractures of the lateral condyle.

Stress Fractures

This portion of the bone can also be prone to stress fractures. Rather than being caused by any sort of trauma, these fractures typically are caused by overuse of the bones with force, such as running for long distances or jumping movements. They’re usually visible only via X-ray or other internal scan. Bones that are weakened by health conditions such as osteoporosis also are at heightened risk for stress fractures.


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Discuss this Article

Post 1

Since I have the beginnings of arthritis in my knees, I have done a lot of research on bones and joints.

The lateral condyle of the femur,tibia, and metatarsals are very important to joint function. They are at the lower part of these bones and they are rounded to help the joints move smoothly.

If you have arthritis in the femur, tibia or the metatarsals, and you get a fracture or a stress fracture, healing time could be long. A new bone may be needed to replace the broken one.

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