What To Know About a Fractured Fibula?
Running back Tony Pollard, who enjoyed a breakout season in 2022 for the Dallas Cowboys, left the game after suffering an ankle injury. According to ESPN’s Todd Archer, Pollard suffered a fractured fibula, a significant injury for a tailback who needs every ounce of strength and agility to be successful at the highest level.
Pollard suffered the injury when his leg was trapped and turned underneath a defender who was tackling him from behind. He would crawl, and then lie, on the ground for several minutes and was unable to return to the game which the Cowboys eventually lost.
How many people fracture their fibula playing sports?
There is no official data that can tell us how common this injury is in the USA. It is not uncommon for individuals to suffer fibula fractures as a result of sports-related injuries.
Is A Fibular Fracture Really Bad?
A fibular fracture can be a significant injury, but the severity of the injury can vary depending on the specific circumstances of the fracture. In general, a fibular fracture is considered less severe than a tibial fracture, which is the other bone in the lower leg.
Fibular fractures can range from simple, stable fractures that can be treated with immobilization and physical therapy, to more complex fractures that require surgery to repair. The severity of the injury can be determined by the location of the fracture, the degree of displacement of the bones, and the presence of any associated injuries.
In general, a fibular fracture typically takes around 4 to 8 weeks to heal, but it can take longer if the bone is displaced or if there are other associated injuries.
However, a fibular fracture can also cause complications such as a non-union, malunion or chronic pain. If the fibula is fractured in association with other injuries, such as an ankle sprain, knee or ankle dislocations, these injuries can also cause long-term problems such as arthritis, instability or chronic pain.
The Anatomy of the Ankle
The ankle is the joint where the foot and the leg meet. It is made up of three bones: the tibia, fibula, and the talus. The tibia is the larger of the two bones in the lower leg and is located on the medial side of the ankle. It forms the ankle joint with the talus bone. The fibula is the smaller of the two bones in the lower leg and is located on the lateral side of the ankle. It is connected to the tibia by the interosseous membrane and does not form a direct joint with the talus. The talus is a bone located between the tibia and fibula and the heel bone (calcaneus). It is the main weight-bearing bone of the ankle and forms the ankle joint with the tibia.
The ankle joint is held together by ligaments, which provide stability to the joint. The main ligaments of the ankle include the anterior talofibular ligament, the posterior talofibular ligament, the calcaneofibular ligament, and the deltoid ligament.
The ankle also has several tendons that attach muscles to bones, allowing for movement of the ankle. These tendons include the Achilles tendon, which attaches the calf muscle to the heel bone, and the peroneal tendons, which attach the muscles on the lateral side of the leg to the bones of the foot.
Additionally, the ankle has several muscles that are responsible for movement and stability of the joint, such as the tibialis anterior, the tibialis posterior, the peroneus longus and brevis and the gastrocnemius.
What Does The Fibula Do For The Ankle Joint ?
The fibula plays a supporting role in the ankle joint. While the tibia and talus bones form the main weight-bearing joint of the ankle, the fibula provides stability to the ankle by connecting to the tibia and talus through ligaments. The fibula also helps to transmit force from the leg to the foot and ankle by acting as an anchor point for muscles and tendons.
The fibula is connected to the tibia by the interosseous membrane, a thick band of tissue that runs between the two bones. This membrane helps to transfer force and stability between the tibia and fibula.
The fibula also attaches to the talus bone through several ligaments, including the anterior talofibular ligament, the posterior talofibular ligament, and the calcaneofibular ligament. These ligaments help to provide stability to the ankle joint and prevent excessive movement in the joint.
Moreover, the fibula’s role in the ankle joint is not only limited to stability but also it has a role in the movement of the ankle. The fibula hosts the peroneal tendons that are responsible for moving the ankle joint in dorsiflexion and eversion movements. The peroneus longus and brevis muscles that originate from the fibula are responsible for these movements.
Overall, the fibula helps to provide stability and support to the ankle joint, while also playing a role in movement of the joint.
What Is The Best Treatment For A Fractured Fibula?
The best treatment for a fractured fibula will depend on the specific circumstances of the injury, including the location and severity of the fracture. In general, treatment options for a fibula fracture include:
- Immobilization: A splint or cast may be used to immobilize the ankle and lower leg to allow the fracture to heal. Depending on the severity of the fracture and the patient’s level of activity, a cast or splint may be worn for several weeks or months.
- Physical therapy: Physical therapy is often used to help improve range of motion, strength, and stability of the ankle and leg after a fibula fracture. Exercises to help improve the range of motion, strength and stability of the ankle.
- Surgery: In some cases, surgery may be necessary to repair a fibula fracture. Surgical options may include the use of pins, screws, or plates to hold the bones in place while they heal.
- Medications: Pain medications may be prescribed to help manage pain and inflammation associated with a fibula fracture.
- Rehabilitation: A rehabilitation program will be prescribed to help the patient regain normal movement and strength of the ankle and leg.
It is important to note that the recovery time for a fibula fracture can vary depending on the severity of the injury and the type of treatment chosen. However, it is important to follow the treatment plan as directed by the doctor in order to achieve a full recovery.
What Are Some Physical Therapy Exercises For A Fractured Fibula?
Physical therapy can be an important part of recovery from a fibula fracture. Some exercises that a physical therapist may recommend include:
- Ankle pumps: This exercise helps to improve circulation and increase range of motion in the ankle. The patient sits with the foot resting on a flat surface and repeatedly flexes and extends the ankle by pointing and flexing the toes.
- Ankle rotations: This exercise helps to improve range of motion and strength in the ankle. The patient sits with the foot resting on a flat surface and rotates the ankle in both clockwise and counterclockwise directions.
- Toe raises: This exercise helps to strengthen the muscles in the front of the leg and ankle. The patient stands on one foot and raises the heel off the ground, then lowers it back down.
- Heel raises: This exercise helps to strengthen the muscles in the back of the leg and ankle. The patient stands on one foot and raises the toes off the ground, then lowers them back down.
- Balance exercises: This exercise helps to improve balance and stability of the ankle and leg. The patient may be asked to stand on one foot, or to stand on a balance board or foam pad.
- Eccentric heel drop: This exercise helps to strengthen the calf muscle and improve the range of motion of the ankle. The patient stands on the edge of a step and lowers the heel down slowly and controlled.
- Proprioception exercises: These exercises help to improve the sense of position and movement of the ankle. The patient may be asked to close his/her eyes and perform movements, or to stand on a balance board or foam pad.
It is important to note that these exercises should only be performed under the guidance of a physical therapist and according to the patient’s condition and progress. It is also important to not push too hard too soon and to not perform any exercises that cause excessive pain.
What Are The Best Jumping Exercises To Do For An Injured Ankle?
Jumping exercises can be beneficial for an injured ankle, but it’s important to consult with a doctor or physical therapist before starting any exercise program, as jumping exercises may not be appropriate for everyone and can worsen an injury if not done properly.
Here are some jumping exercises that may be appropriate for an injured ankle, depending on the specific condition:
- Box jumps: Box jumps are a great exercise for building explosive power and strength in the lower body. It’s important to start with a lower box and progress gradually to higher boxes as the ankle allows.
- Single leg hops: This exercise helps to improve balance, stability and coordination of the ankle. The patient should hop on one leg for a set distance or for a set number of repetitions.
- Skip rope: Jumping rope is a great exercise to help build ankle strength and stability. It’s a low impact exercise that can be done at home and it improves coordination and balance.
- Jumping jacks: Jumping jacks are a great full-body cardio exercise that can help to improve balance and stability in the ankle.
- Jumping on a trampoline: Jumping on a trampoline can be a fun and effective way to build strength and stability in the ankle. It’s important to start with small jumps and progress gradually to higher jumps as the ankle allows.
It’s important to keep in mind that the best jumping exercises for an injured ankle will depend on the specific injury and the stage of recovery. Your physical therapist will be able to give you guidance on what is appropriate for your condition.
It’s also important to start with low impact exercises and progress gradually as your ankle allows, and stop any exercise that causes pain.
If you think you have a fractured fibula go to a good orthopedic doctor who specializes in ankle disorders. They will make the proper determination how the fibula should be treated. Physical therapy can start in about 3 weeks from the date of injury or surgery.
The expert team at Athletic Physical Therapy specializes in sports medicine and orthopedic rehabilitation. Our proprietary ARC Progression physical therapy program is proven to reduce inflammation and pain, increase flexibility and strength, and restore power and performance quickly so you can get back to the active lifestyle you love.
(X-rays of fibula fractures are not related to Tony Pollard)