Tibial fractures are without a doubt a high-damage injury with the need for intensive rehab. Given that the tibial plateau is one of the key bone structures that support the body’s weight, it is imperative to partake in any physical activity such as walking, running, or jumping. Patients recovering from this type of injury can have difficulty doing everyday tasks. A fracture of the tibial plateau is usually caused by a high-energy impact and on most occasions, requires surgery.
Below we will answer some frequently asked questions about tibial fracture recovery and pain management.
Tibial bone fractures are among the most common long bone fractures seen in 4% of the senior population. This is often due to falls and other accidents. Tibial fractures are also a common sports-related injury among athletes engaging in sports heavy on running and jumping or contact sports such as football, soccer and rugby. Injuries of the tibial bone are also often seen in young children. It is a common pediatric fracture as young children are at risk of breaking limbs even when low force is applied at the time of injury.
For tibial fractures of non-displaced bones, recovery may take three to four months without surgery to heal. For displaced tibial plateau fractures, or when surgery is required, recovery may take around four to six months.
As with any major surgery, postoperative pain is a common complication that can in turn lead to potentially delayed recovery. In one study, of 267 patients with tibial shaft fractures, 147 (55.1%) reported chronic post-surgical pain after one year of surgery. As pain is a natural stressor, it stimulates physiological and psychological responses in the body. As the patient attempts to recover, these responses can cause postoperative complications and have a direct effect on the patient’s recovery time.
Treatment for tibial shaft injuries is generally operative in cases where the bone has been misplaced however, techniques such as physical therapy can aid patients during the process of healing and postoperative pain management. A physical therapist will recommend exercises and treatments to restore the patient’s mobility and alleviate the pain of the patient as much as possible. Therapist will focus on restoring the patient’s joint range of motion and reactivating the leg muscles. However, note that each injury and individual’s healing journey will be different, so recovery time will vary. Physical therapy is also limited when it comes to postoperative pain reduction. It can assist in reducing inflammation and calming the patient’s pain in the long term, however, physical therapy does not itself target the patient’s pain.
Low-level laser therapy (3LT®) is a modern technology that is being used in the field of medicine to treat sport injuries and musculoskeletal disorders. 3LT® is a laser treatment that is a professional’s preferred option for pain killing and wound healing.
3LT® uses irradiation with laser light of low intensity, without utilizing heat. This nonthermal technology causes a photochemical reaction in individual cells that alters cell membrane permeability, leading to increased mRNA synthesis and cell proliferation. In other words, 3LT®reduces edema and inflammation after surgery. 3LT® can even be used during surgery to decrease pain during and after operation. One study found that laser radiation at wavelengths of 650 and 808 nm can decrease postoperative pain and analgesic use in the postoperative period.
3LT® is a proper postoperative pain reduction technique. It is completely safe, painless (of course), and noninvasive. This is why it is easily accepted by patients and providers alike.