What Is the Distal Fibula?

Christina Edwards

The distal fibula is the lower part of the fibula, which is one of the bones that forms the lower leg. This bone, along with two other bones, helps form one of the joints of the ankle. Young children have a growth plate in their distal fibulas. If a growth plate is broken, it can lead to deformities in adulthood. Treatment for a fracture in this region usually involves a cast.

After an X-ray confirms a distal fibula fracture, the bones are repositioned as close to their natural positions as possible.
After an X-ray confirms a distal fibula fracture, the bones are repositioned as close to their natural positions as possible.

The fibula is the bone located on the lateral side of the tibia. Together, these two bones make up the lower leg. The distal fibula is the lower portion of the fibula, located at the ankle.

The distal fibula is the lower part of the fibula bone.
The distal fibula is the lower part of the fibula bone.

Feet are able to pivot because of the ankle joint, which is made up of the tibia and talus, along with the distal fibula. The tibia is on the inside of the ankle, and the talus is at the bottom of the ankle. The distal fibula is located on the outside of the ankle, and it can be seen protruding slightly on the side of the ankle.

A distal fibula fracture can severely limit mobility until it is fully healed, especially in older adults.
A distal fibula fracture can severely limit mobility until it is fully healed, especially in older adults.

Children have something called a growth plate located in their distal fibulas. Growth plates consist of cartilage, a substance that is softer than bone and can stretch as children grow. As people get older, these plates will turn completely to bone.

Broken ankles usually occur when people twist their ankles.
Broken ankles usually occur when people twist their ankles.

A fractured distal fibula is a somewhat common injury, especially in very active people. Fractures that break the growth plate in a child can be serious. If these fractures do not heal correctly, they can cause deformities. Some children who have a fracture on this area, for example, may have one leg that is slightly shorter than the other.

A cast is often used to treat a distal fibula fracture.
A cast is often used to treat a distal fibula fracture.

Broken ankles usually occur when people twist their ankles. These are often mistaken for sprained ankles. These two injuries have similar symptoms.

Feet are able to pivot because of the ankle joint, which is made up of the tibia and talus, along with the distal fibula.
Feet are able to pivot because of the ankle joint, which is made up of the tibia and talus, along with the distal fibula.

Pain is one of the main symptoms of a fractured distal fibula. This pain will usually be the worst on the outside of the ankle. Most people with this type of injury are unable to put weight on the injured ankle. Swelling and bruising may also occur.

Fractures of the distal fibula in children may be serious because of the location of the growth plate.
Fractures of the distal fibula in children may be serious because of the location of the growth plate.

X-rays are usually used to diagnose a fractured distal fibula. After the diagnosis, the fractured bones are positioned back together as close to their natural positions as possible. A cast is then used to hold the fractured bones together, and it will usually take a couple months for the bone to heal completely.

Runners may experience distal fibula injuries.
Runners may experience distal fibula injuries.
Swelling may occur as a result of a fractured distal fibula.
Swelling may occur as a result of a fractured distal fibula.

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