CausesBy Mayo Clinic staff
There are a number of ways you can break a leg, including:
- Falls. Falling can fracture your thighbone (femur) or shinbone (tibia). Children can fracture these bones by falling on the playground, while toddlers can break the tibia or fibula by falling over a toy or falling down the stairs while learning to walk; however, the femur is unlikely to be broken without more significant trauma.
- Significant trauma. All three leg bones can break during a motor vehicle accident. Shinbone fractures often occur when your knees become jammed against the dashboard during a collision.
- Sports injuries. Hyperextending your leg during contact sports can cause a broken leg. So can a direct blow — such as from a hockey stick or an opponent's body — or falling while climbing or biking.
- Child abuse. In children, a broken leg may be the result of child abuse.
- Overuse. Stress fractures are tiny cracks that develop in the weight-bearing bones of your body, including your tibia. Stress fractures are usually caused by repetitive force or overuse, such as running long distances, jumping, marching or ballet dancing. But they can also occur with normal use of a bone that's been weakened by a condition, such as osteoporosis.
- Fields KB. Stress fractures of the tibia and fibula. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed April 21, 2011.
- Thighbone (femur) fractures. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. http://www.orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00364. Accessed May 19, 2011.
- Shinbone fractures. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. http://www.orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00161. Accessed May 19, 2011.
- Fractures of the lower extremity: Shaft of the femur. In: Canale ST, et al. Campbell's Operative Orthopaedics. 11th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2008. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/132633798-5/831634018/1584/388.html#4-u1.0-B978-0-323-03329-9..50054-4--cesec111_2919. Accessed May 19, 2011.