What is tibial plateau fracture?

Tibial plateau fracture: Overview

A tibial plateau fracture is a break of the shinbone (tibia) at the knee. The tibial plateau is the flat area at the top of the shinbone that the thighbone (femur) rests on.

The break can range from a crack to a shattered bone. It depends on how much force caused it and how strong your bones are.

Treatment depends on how bad the break is and whether your knee was healthy to start with. Most people need surgery to join the pieces of bone together with plates and screws. Some people will need a joint replacement. If the break is minor, you may wear a hinged knee brace and use a walker or crutches for 8 to 12 weeks. It's important to start moving your knee as soon as you can after your injury or surgery. You may also have physical therapy.

What are the symptoms of a tibial plateau fracture?

Symptoms of a tibial plateau fracture may include severe pain and swelling of the knee. The swollen area may be firm to the touch. The lower leg may be turned or angled in an odd way. The knee may buckle when weight is put on it.

How is a tibial plateau fracture treated?

Most people need surgery to join the pieces of bone together with plates and screws. Some people will need a joint replacement. If the break is minor, you may wear a hinged knee brace and use a walker or crutches for 8 to 12 weeks. You may also have physical therapy.

How is a tibial plateau fracture diagnosed?

Your doctor will examine your knee and ask how it was injured. You will have X-rays to see where and how bad the break is. You may get an MRI scan to see if there is other damage to your knee. This can also help your doctor plan surgery to fix your knee.

How can you care for yourself when you have a tibial plateau fracture?

Do not put weight on your knee. Use a walker or crutches to walk. Apply ice, and prop up your knee on pillows so that it's above the level of your heart. Follow your doctor's instructions about knee exercises, taking pain medicines, and using a knee brace or a splint.

What is a tibial plateau fracture?

A tibial plateau fracture is a break of the shinbone (tibia) at the knee. The tibial plateau is the flat area at the top of the shinbone. The thighbone (femur) rests on it. The break can range from a crack to a shattered bone.

Tibial plateau fracture: When to call

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You passed out (lost consciousness).
  • You have severe trouble breathing.
  • You have sudden chest pain and shortness of breath, or you cough up blood.

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have new or worse pain.
  • Your foot is cool or pale or changes color.
  • You have tingling, weakness, or numbness in your toes.
  • Your brace or splint feels too tight.
  • You have signs of a blood clot in your leg (called a deep vein thrombosis), such as:
    • Pain in your calf, back of the knee, thigh, or groin.
    • Swelling in the leg or groin.
    • A color change on the leg or groin. The skin may be reddish or purplish, depending on your usual skin color.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • You have a problem with your splint or brace.
  • You do not get better as expected.
  • You have problems with medicine.

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The content above contains general health information provided by Healthwise, Incorporated, and reviewed by its medical experts. This content should not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Not all treatments or services described are offered as services by us. For recommended treatments, please consult your healthcare provider.