Chipped Shin Bone

Chipped Shin Bone: If you didn’t have a severe accident, black and blue bruising, or any deformity to your leg- 95% chance you are OK!





What is the Shin Bone?


  • The shinbone is actually a large bone called the tibia. It is the bone between the knee and ankle.
  • Together with the foot, the tibia forms the leg. Together with the thigh this forms what is called the lower extremity.
  • There are two bones within the leg between the ankle and the knee. The larger bone which bears 85% of your weight, is called the tibia. The smaller bone towards the outside of your body bears 15% of your weight and this is called the fibula. It does officially comprise your ankle joint, but not so much the knee joint. They are both very important bones for the attachment of ligaments and muscles.
  • It is very rare to chip your shinbone, if you did this is a very severe injury that would likely not let you be able to walk with. True tibial shaft breaks occur with very significant injuries such as severe falls or car accidents.
  • Fractures can occur anywhere throughout this bone, but once again you would see a definitive deformity.
  • It is very unlikely that you chipped the bone, otherwise you would feel severe deformity.




 Causes of a Chipped Shin Bone:


  • As mentioned earlier, it takes a large amount of force to chip the shin bone. High-energy collisions such as car crashes or motorcycle crashes can cause these fractures.
  • Sports injuries such as player collisions in soccor or a fall while skiing can result in a Chipped Shin Bone.
  • Because sports injuries are not as high energy as vehicles crashes, they result in minor and less serious fractures.
  • If you have a Chipped Shin Bone, it may be possible to feel it exactly on the inside of the tibia. It will also really hurt & you won’t be able to bear any weight on your foot.

Chipped Shin BoneA shin stress fracture is possible and can cause a gradually onsetting shin pain. But if you stubbed your shin on a coffee table, you most likely don’t have a tibial stress fracture!

Symptoms of a Chipped Shin Bone:

Think broken shin bone if:

  • You feel severe Pain.
  • You can’t put any weight on the leg.
  • There is a gross deformity in the shin area.
  • You can feel a bone deformity when compared to your other leg.
  • You have numbness, burning or tingling in your foot.This does not guarantee that the bone is broken, it could still just be a bone bruise! But if you hit your shin bone very hard, it may be possible to fracture the bone. It is unlikely to have a small chip, but it may be a break.


Chipped Shin Bone
If a tibia is broken, it is usually most obvious through compression pain. If you push on the heel or weight bear on the foot, you will feel it in the tibia. But this is also possible in a bone bruise.














Think bone bruise or severe skin bruise if:

  • Pain that does not get worse with weight bearing.
  • You can stand on your heel.
  • It doesn’t make much of a difference if weight bearing or non-weight bearing.
  • No obvious deformity in the leg.
  • If you can feel with your hand and the bone is generally the same as the other leg.
  • No tending of the skin.
  • No numbness, burning or tingling in the foot.


Can a shin chip fracture be dangerous?


  • If you had a dangerous fracture that went all the way through both sides of the bone, yes this would be very dangerous. But you would have a severely deformed leg or be unable to put any weight on your foot.
  • Simply having swelling at the front of your shin, is more likely to be a bone bruise, or an muscle injury.



How do I know if I have a chipped shinbone or just bruised?


  • Very likely it is just a bruise, otherwise he would have severe difficulty walking.
  • If you do not have a significant deformity, this is more likely to be a bruise than a broken bone.
  • The best way to make sure that you don’t have a chip, is to get an x-ray at the emergency room or your podiatrist office if it is severely injured.
  •  from what we see in our office, people usually think they may have a chip, but it is very unlikely to be checked.
  • This is a different story if you have severe pain, black thing damage.



Factors that make a chipped or broken shinbone more likely:


A chipped shin bone is much more likely if you have the following going on:

  • Tenderness directly to the bone.
  • An inability to place weight on the leg.
  • Black bruised skin.
  • Severe swelling.
  • Huge lump that forms on your shin.
  • Severe deformity.
  • An inability to put any weight on your leg.
  • Having just suffered a severe injury like a fault or a car accident.



Factors that make chipped or broken shinbone more unlikely:


Chipped shinbone is much less likely if you have the following going on:

  • A small bump against the coffee table.
  • Not having severe pain to the extremity.
  • No significant deformity.
  • No tenderness directly to the bone.
  • You can still put all your weight on the bone.
  • A bump against the door frame or wall.
  • Getting kicked during a sports game.
  • No severe bruising.
  • If it is just sore but you are still able to walk on it.
  • A negative x-ray.
  • The lack of deformity through your tibia.


Types of Fractures in the Shin Bone:

There are many types of Tibial fractures:

  1. Stable fracture:

    The broken ends of the bone are properly alligned. This type of fracture does not require surgery to repair and it heals quickly.

  2. Displaced fracture:

    The broken ends of the bone are not properly aligned. This type of fracture requires surgery to repair. There are many forms of displaced fractures:

    a) Oblique fracture– this type of fracture has an onlique shape. It starts as stable and over time it falls out of place.

    b) Transverse  fracture– it is a fracture in the shape of a horizontal line. This fracture can be stable or unstable (especially if the Fibula is also broken).

    c) Spiral fracture– has the shape of a strair case. Normally a twisting force to the leg can cause this type of fracture.

    d) Open fracture– this occurs when both the Tibia and the Fibula are fractured.



Treatment of a chipped or broken shinbone:

If you truly do have a tibial fracture, this is a very severe injury. The first thing you have to do is go visit a specialist and get an x-ray, or a CT scan performed.

This is a considered a very serious injury that may need surgery or at the very least very long-term casting.


1) Casting for a chipped shin bone:

  • Depending on the severity of your broken tibial fracture, you may need to wear this cast for at least 4 to 6 weeks.
  • If the bone is not aligned, you may need further surgery plus casting.


2) Surgery for a chapter broken shin bone:

  • It is very rare to simply need to remove the chipped shinbone.
  • A surgery called an open reduction, internal fixation will likely need to be performed by a specialist.


3) Plates and screws adverse and external fixator:

  • If you’re shinbone breaks through the skin, a device called an external, or ring fixator may be necessary.
  • Once again this is a very significant injury at this point, and you will be hospitalized and seen by a team of specialists.


4) Recovery time in treatment for an chipped or Broken shin bone:

  • If you truly do chip or break your shinbone, this will require a recovery time of at least 4 to 6 weeks.
  • If you do have displacement shifting of the bones, you are looking at at least three months of total healing time.
  • This will involve healing the surgery, and extensive physical therapy to get your joint range of motion back.
  • With an injury this severe, you may never completely regain the initial function that you did have.
  • Some patients do have long-term arthritis or chronic pain depending on how severe and displaced injury is.


Complications of a chipped or broken shinbone:

  • These can be the complications of any broken bone, these include long-term pain, the need for surgery, and permanent disability.



Chipped shinbone summary:

  • The real key for chapter broken shinbone is to realize that you probably don’t have a break if you had a small bump or if you are still able to walk on your leg.
  • It is very rare to simply chip or break a piece of the bone off, without completely cracking through the bone and being unable to put weight on it.


The four major criteria include:

  1. Are you able to put weight on it?
  2. Do you have a deformity?
  3. Did you suffer a severe accident?
  4. Do you have black and blue bruising of your leg?


If the form these questions lean towards the less severe side, and likely your bone is not broken.

But if you are still able to walk and it continues to bother you, go see your podiatrist or other foot and ankle specialist to make sure you have imaging performed to make 100% sure.



How to know for sure?

If you have pain in your Shin Bone, you probably do not have a fracture (because this requires a huge amount of force). But it may certainly be possible.

  • It is even possible to have a broken tibia with very little symptoms.
  • It is also possible to have just a bruise with severe pain.
  • It all depends on the person & how the body reacts to it!
  • The only way to know 100% sure is to see your podiatrist & get an X-ray or MRI.


Shin Bone Stress Fracture:

If you stubbed your shin on a coffee table or a door, you likely do not have a stress fracture of the shine bone.

  • These usually do not happen while stubbing your shin.
  • A tibial stress fracture gradually onsets over a period of days or weeks.
  • It is not detectable on X-ray for about 10-21 days on average.
  • If there is trauma than it is an actual fracture, not a stress fracture.
  • A stress fracture occurs due to chronic overloading of the bone, this is usually in marathon runners.


Can I have a possible ankle fracture?

Watch this video to find out how likely it is to have a sprained ankle or a broken ankle.

The Ottawa ankle rules are a series of 6 guidelines to determine if a bone is broken or not.

It assesses these 6 factors:

  • 1) Tibial bone pain.
  • 2) Fibular bone pain.
  • 3) Weight bearing ankle pain.
  • 4) 5th metatarsal pain.
  • 5) Navicular pain.
  • 6) Weight bearing foot pain.

If one of these are positive, then it is more likely that you have a broken foot or ankle.