Rugby Injuries, Rugby Injury
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Broken Leg & Rugby

 

 

Introduction

A broken leg is one of the most common injuries in contact sports such as rugby. The fracture can either be caused by a direct hit to the leg or a twisted force when the foot is fixed.

There are two bones that comprise the leg. The tibia is the shin bone and this bears the majority of weight during weight bearing. The smaller bone is the fibula which is located on the outside of the lower leg.

Tibial fractures are either classified as closed fractures or open fractures. A closed fracture refers to a break where the skin is not broken and an open fracture is when the bone breaks through the skin. All Tibial fractures are medical emergencies and prompt hospital treatment should be sought. X-Rays will be required.

X-Ray of broken tibula with screw fixation surgery


Broken Leg Signs & Symptoms

Needless to say the player will be lying on the floor in excruciating pain. If it is an open fracture there will be substantial bleeding. With a closed fracture there will be immediate swelling and discolouration.

Broken Leg Treatment

Treatment options are largely dependent upon the type of fracture. With a closed fracture that has the two fragments of bone to be in close proximity, a surgeon will operate to bring the fragments as close as possible. This is then followed by a plaster cast to immobilize the leg.

The usual healing time for a mid-shaft Tibia and Fibula fracture treated with cast immobilization is 12 to 16 weeks. This is followed by rehabilitation with a Physiotherapist to restore muscle strength lost during immobilization and the range of movement of the ankle and knee. In some cases the orthopaedic doctor may allow the use of a removable plastic leg cast instead of a plaster cast.

Plastic cast walkers are removable which enables a physiotherapist to do regular gentle exercises The other benefit when comparing to the conventional plaster casts is that you can wash the affected leg and foot making it a more hygienic option. Most plastic casts have rocker soles which means that as long as the doctor says it's safe to do so you can begin to walk gently and possibly with a walking stick.

Where the injury is caused by a direct blow from a tackle the fragments of bone are usually splintered and displaced which means it is an open fracture. In these circumstances the orthopaedic consultant may choose to fix the fracture surgically. This can be done using a plate and screw method, a large nail down the centre of the bone, or what is known as an external fixator - a frame around the leg that is screwed into the bone. These surgical techniques will allow the rugby player to begin rehabilitation earlier and prevent excessive joint stiffness or muscle wastage that occurs during long periods of immobilization.

When the fracture is healing the doctors will give the go ahead for physiotherapy. Hydrotherapy exercises are very helpful in regaining ankle range of movement. Non weight bearing exercises, such as pool running using a buoyancy belt, also allow the user to regain fitness. Manual therapy with the physio can help to restore normal ankle movement if there is any stiffness.


What you can do

  • • Consult a sports injury expert
    • Use a buoyancy aid for pool fitness exercises
    • Wear a removable light-weight plastic walker instead of a plaster cast

 

 

 

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