What Is the Treatment for a Spiral Fracture of the Tibia?

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  • Written By: Jodee Redmond
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 21 February 2019
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When a spiral fracture of the tibia has been diagnosed, medical professionals have a number of options in treating it. One is to set the fracture and apply a cast to the lower leg and ankle of the injured person. Another option is to operate on the affected limb and insert pins into the bone to hold it in place. Which treatment is performed often depends on the seriousness of the fracture.

A spiral fracture occurs when a bone is twisted, causing it to break. This type of injury is quite common among young children, who may become injured by falling when learning how to walk, and is also known as a toddler’s fracture. Twisting injuries of the tibia may also occur in older children and adults from a fall, such as those that can happen when skiing.

Before choosing a treatment option, the limb will need to be examined by a healthcare professional. An X-ray may be ordered to confirm that a fracture has occurred and to determine whether it is a spiral or other type. If the fracture resulted in a break in the skin, that wound will need to be treated as well.


Once the X-ray has been completed, the bone must be set back into position so that it can heal properly. The patient may be given pain medication to help him or her to remain still during this part of the procedure. In cases of relatively minor breaks, a cast that extends to the foot and ankle is applied to the leg to secure the bone. The patient will be given instructions for caring for the cast and when it should be removed. He or she will also be given some instructions about when to start doing some simple exercises, such as wiggling the toes, to help with the rehabilitation process following the injury.

If the medical professional determines that surgery is required to treat the injury, the patient will be taken to an operating room for the procedure. An orthopedic surgeon will probably perform the operation to fix the spiral fracture, since this type of injury falls within that area of medicine. He or she will place pins, plates, and screws in place as required to hold the broken parts of the tibia in place, and then close the incision. The patient will recuperate in the hospital before being allowed to go home.


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Discuss this Article

Post 4

I had a spiral fracture like this 10 years ago. Having the hardware removed in a month!

Post 3

Having been through this surgery 21-plus years ago, this option needs to be addressed. I broke my leg (spiral) in a hockey game 21 years ago. Four months after insertion of an IM rod I was skating again and within six months, was back playing in my Rec league.

An IM (intermedulary) rod may also be inserted in the tibia to provide stabilization and speed recovery, especially in a sports-related injury. This also allows weight-bearing PT to begin sooner.

Post 2

Athletes, even weekend warriors like myself, commonly experience spiral fractures. The fracture I had was able to be treated with a cast, and rest.

I have known other guys who had more serious injuries and had to have surgery, like mentioned in the article. Based on my experience and what I have been told, I got off easy with the cast.

When your doctor has to insert pins, it's a different recovery procedure and from what I heard, more painful.

Post 1

Until reading this article I had never heard of a toddler's fracture, and I had no idea that spiral fractures happened as much as they do when a child is learning to walk.

I guess that's something else parents need to be aware of.

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