A tibial plateau fracture develops at the upper part of the shin bone and involves the cartilage surface of the knee joint. Once a fracture occurs into or around the joint surface, the affected joint is at risk for developing arthritis due to injury. It is sad to note that even if the cartilage and bone surfaces are lined properly, there is still a risk for developing knee arthritis due to damage to the cartilage cells.
How is a tibial plateau fracture managed?
The treatment for a tibial plateau fracture usually depends on how well the knee joint cartilage is aligned. Among cases in which there is no displacement of the fracture or cartilage, it can be managed using non-surgical measures. In cases in which the cartilage or bone is not properly aligned, surgery is often considered.
Aside from aligning the fracture, a significant consideration that determines the suitable treatment is the condition of the soft tissues surrounding the fracture. Surgery is opted if there is an open fracture while severe swelling might be the motive to suspend the surgery in fractures where the skin is intact but the soft tissues are harshly diminished.
The non-displaced fractures involve cracks in the bone that can be seen in an X-ray but the bones stay in their proper position and alignment. Most cases of non-displaced fractures are treated without surgery but usually require a prolonged period of protection from walking.
Some cases are at risk for displacing after the injury and requires close monitoring by the surgeon. In case displacement occurs, surgery might be required to realign the bony fragments and secure in place.
A displaced tibial plateau fracture often necessitates surgery to straighten the bones and reinstate constancy as well as alignment of the knee joint. There are a number of surgical options and the right one depends on the pattern of the fracture.
Surgery usually involves the placement of plates and screws into the fractured bone. If the bones are lined up properly, the procedure can be managed with small-sized incisions using an X-ray to align the bones.
The bone fragments are held in place using screws alone or with both screws and plates. The screws alone are typically utilized when a single piece of bone has broken off and easily repositioned.
Recovery from a tibial plateau fracture usually takes several months. Due to the cartilage surface of the joint that is involved, the knee should be protected from weight until the fracture healed.
Many individuals are allowed to move the knee joint but weight is not placed on the leg for up to 3 months. The precise period of limitation varies on the type of fracture and the degree of healing that occurs.