, Volume 7, Issue 4, pp 262-266

Tibia and fibula fractures in soccer players

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Abstract

We performed a retrospective review of 31 athletes who sustained a fracture of the lower leg from a direct blow while playing soccer. Fifteen fractures involved both the tibia and fibula, 11 only the tibia, and 5 only the fibula. Information was collected using a standardized questionnaire. The mean follow-up from the time of injury was 30 months. Injuries typically occurred in young, competitive athletes during game situations. The mechanisms were broadly classified into several categories: contact during a slide tackle (13, 42%), a collision with the goalkeeper (8, 26%), two opposing players colliding while swinging for a loose ball (7, 23%), or a player being kicked by a standing opponent (3, 10%). The majority of fractures (26, 90%) occurred while the athletes were wearing shin guards. The point of impact was with the shin guard prior to the fracture in 16 cases (62%). Return to competitive soccer averaged 40 weeks for combined tibia and fibula fractures, 35 weeks for isolated tibia fractures, and 18 weeks for isolated fibula fractures. Injuries were associated with a high incidence of major complications (12 out of 31, 39%), especially in concurrent tibia and fibula fractures (8 out of 15, 50%). These findings suggest that lower leg fractures in soccer players are serious injuries, often necessitating a prolonged recovery time. In addition, this study questions the ability of shin guards to protect against fractures.

Received: 1 March 1998 Accepted: 10 August 1998