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What is a fracture of the tibial plateau?

The shin bone is called the tibia. The tibial plateau is the very top surface of the shin bone that creates the lower surface of the knee joint. A fracture of the tibial plateau occurs when the bone is broken through this surface. Physiotherapy is an effective treatment for a fracture of the tibial plateau.

How does a fracture of the tibial plateau happen?

A fracture of the tibial plateau can be caused by a direct blow to the knee joint or a compressive force going through the knee (ie. a fall from a height or when the knee is bent in the wrong direction).

Therapist performing knee assessmentAbove: Therapist performing knee assessment

What are the symptoms of a tibial plateau fracture?

Intense pain is immediately felt within the knee joint if the tibial plateau is fractured. Pain often worsens with movement and you may be unable to put weight through the injured leg. The knee usually swells quickly following injury. Other symptoms may include:

What should I do if I have a fracture of the tibial plateau?

A fracture of the tibial plateau is a serious knee injury. If you suspect that you have a tibial plateau fracture you should seek immediate medical attention at your nearest accident and emergency department. Initial treatment normally involves immobilising the knee using a knee brace or bandages.

What shouldn’t I do if I have a fracture of the tibial plateau?

If you suspect that you have fractured your tibial plateau, you should not perform activities involving excessive movement of your injured leg until you have been assessed in accident and emergency.

Medical management a fracture of the tibial plateau.

Initially, in accident and emergency, your injury can be diagnosed. This may require the use of an X-ray. From this, they will be able to devise an appropriate treatment program and estimate how long the fracture is expected to take to heal. Treatment may involve using crutches, wearing a knee brace and, in some cases, surgery to hold the broken pieces of bones together.

Progressive knee strengthening exercises supervised by therapistAbove: Progressive knee strengthening exercises supervised by therapist

Physiotherapy for a fracture of the tibial plateau.

You should inform your consultant before you arrange a physiotherapy appointment. Physiotherapy is sometimes appropriate immediately but, in most cases, it usually starts once the fracture has healed sufficiently. Your physiotherapist will devise a treatment programme for you at your initial assessment, to accelerate your recovery. Treatment following a tibial plateau fracture is often a combination of:

Could there be any long-term effects from a fracture of the tibial plateau?

Many tibial plateau fractures heal within six to ten weeks. However, depending on the severity and extent of the injury longer-term effects can be caused. It is possible for a number of other structures to become damaged when the tibial plateau is broken. These include the cartilage and ligaments of the knee. Damage to surrounding structures can delay recovery. Cartilaginous damage also increases the likelihood of developing arthritis within the knee.

To arrange a physiotherapy assessment call on 0330 088 7800 or book online.

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