What is Tibia bone and Where is it located?
Tibia is a long, bulky bone that lodges the anterior and internal portion of the leg, next to the Fibula. Tibia loads the weight of our body from the femur bone, and transmits the weight to the feet through the astragalus bone. Subsequently the femur, tibia is the largest bone in the body, supporting the weightiness of our body.
The border that articulates with the femur is broad, and it has the medial and lateral condyles, also named glenoid surfaces, which articulate with the femur condyles. It has a plane top surface, the tibial plateau, that is composed by two condyles and one eminence between the condyles, named ‘eminence intercondylar’. This eminence fits into the intercondylar groove of the femur, like a piece of puzzle. Its lateral condyle articulates with the fibula, through the articular peroneal side.
Picture 1: Diagram of Tibia bone
Anatomy of Tibia Bone
Tibia bone has two epiphyses and one diaphysis. The upper epiphysis is responsible for the knee joint, while the lower epiphysis shares the ankle joint with the lower epiphysis of the fibula bone.
The upper epiphysis is large, slightly projected backwards. It has the shape of an inverted triangular pyramid: The apex is oriented towards the diaphysis, and its base is the upper part, named tibial plateau. It has two horizontal articular surfaces, which accommodate the femoral condyles; these are the medial and lateral glossal cavities. The medial is longer and excavated, while the lateral is more extended in a transverse direction. Each cavity contains a semicircular peripheral edge, and those edges are raised to form the respective medial and lateral tubercles. Together, both tubercles form the tibia spine.
The glenoid cavities are supported by the medial and lateral tibial tubercles, which are protrusions on the lateral side of the upper epiphysis. The lateral tuberosity presents poster laterally an articular rounded zone: the articular side for fibula. In the anterior side, we can see an important prominence, named anterior tibial tuberosity. Next to, there is a small protuberance, the Gerdy tubercle, where the fasciae latae is located.
Picture 2: Tibia bone anatomy (anterior view)
Between the anterior and medial tibial tuberosity, there is a triangular, roughly textured area named pes anserinus (or ‘goose foot’), where the sartorius, internal rectus and semitendinosus muscles are located. The diaphysis is triangular transversal: Its anteromedial side is subcutaneous, superficial. its lateral area is concave at the top, and convex at the bottom. Its back side is traversed by a sharp protrusion, named the line for soleus, where we can find the muscle with the same name.
The frontal edge is shaped like a “S” italic letter, so is very exposed to trauma due to its subcutaneous superficial location. The medial edge is narrowly marked on the top, prominent on the bottom. The lateral edge, named interosseous border, inserts the interosseous membrane. This border splits in the lower part to demarcate (into the lower epiphysis) to the articular surface of the fibula. The lower epiphysis is markedly smaller than the upper epiphysis. It participates in the tibio tarsal and the lower tibiofibular articulations. The shape is similar to a quadrangular pyramid. Its lower surface is articulated with the trochlea of the astragalus by a quadrilateral surface, plane and uniform, concave since the front to back.
The frontal surface is convex and plane, no osseous setoffs. On the back surface, there are oblique channels, oriented medially for the passageway of tendons from the plantar flexor muscles of the foot and the fingers. The lateral zone is the articular surface for the fibula lower extremity. The medial surface is extended downward by the medial malleolus. Its medial part is convex, plane and subcutaneous. The lateral side of the malleolus is the continuation of the inferior epiphysis of the tibia lower area, articulated with the medial surface of the astragalus. Its posterior border contains the malleolar channel of the tibia, for the posterior tibial muscles and common long flexor of fingers.
Picture 3: Tibia bone location
Tibia Bone Function
The function of the tibia bone is to support the weight of our body. Like all long bones, the tibia has two epiphyses and one diaphysis. The upper epiphysis is responsible for the knee articulation, and the lower epiphysis shares the ankle articulation with the lower epiphysis of the fibula bone. The tibia bone is the largest and strongest of the two bones of the leg below the knee, (the other is the fibula). The tibia bone connects the knee to the ankle bones.
Tibia Bone Pain
When we suffer from pain in the tibia zone, we suffer hurt in the frontal area of the lower part of the legs. This annoying pain is located along the lower border of the tibia, and usually happens during, or after, a change in our physical activity, such as running more frequently or increasing the rate or number of kilometers.
Tibia pains are very common, and it can affect to both high-performance athletes and amateur sportspersons. The pain is caused by the swelling or inflammation of the muscles, tendons, and the thin layer of skin that covers the tibia. The most common cause is overloading for too much activity or training, as well as the subsequent lack of rest and inactivity enough to recover. Often, a change in our activity may be the cause. For example: running more frequently, longer distances; in an aerobic dance, or in military training.
Other causes of Tibia Bone Pain:
- Flat feet, or very stiff arches, can cause more tension on the lower leg, and cause pain in the tibia.
- Chronic anterior compartment syndrome, which affects the external side of the front of the leg. This syndrome can cause numbness and clumsiness in feet when exercising.
- Overload fractures generally produce critical pain, and sensitivity to 2.5 or 5 cm below the knee.
- Lower levels of sodium, magnesium, potassium and calcium in blood.
- Certain Drugs such as diuretics and statins.
Several injuries can also cause Tibia Pain:
- Excessive tearing or stretching (muscle strain)
- Overload fracture
- Distended tendon (tendinitis)
- Tibia shaft fracture
- Leg cramps: pain in the front of the leg due to overload or repetitive movements
- Atherosclerosis, that obstructs the flow of blood to the arteries. This type of pain called claudication is usually felt when exercising or walking
- Blood clots (deep vein thrombosis) due to prolonged bed rest
- Bone infection (osteomyelitis)
- Inflammation of the leg articulations caused by arthritis
- Damage to the nerve: common in diabetics
- Varicose veins
- Anterior Compartment Syndrome
The key point to heal us accurately is home care. When we suffer tibia bone pain, it is important that we rest completely for at least two weeks, even if we have to walk for our daily activities. We can also opt for light exercise activities, such as swimming or cycling, always at a moderate rhythm.
After 2 or 4 weeks, when the pain is gone, we can increase our level of activity, in a progressive way. If the pain returns, we should stop again. It is very central that, before and after any physical exercise, we warm up and stretch properly. We can also apply ice or a cold cloth over the damaged area for 10/20 minutes twice a day. Analgesics prescribed by a medical professional can also help us mitigate the tibia pain.
In addition to, we should go to our doctor or physiotherapist, in order they can guide/educate us, advising about the right shoes, to get orthopedic devices for our shoes, or to recommend about running on the appropriate surface types. For example, in cases of Anterior Compartment Syndrome, our doctor will oversee recommending us the best medical and resting treatment. Or, in case of a fracture due to overload, we should also have to follow the medical prescription. Most patients with an overload fracture need to use crutches, and avoid some specific activities. So, the guide of our medical professional is essential to preserve a healthy state.
If we suffer Tibia pain, we have to reduce our activity:
- Resting of sport or exercise
- Avoiding repetitive exercise that involves moving the leg
- Trying another low-impact activity as long as we do not suffer pain
- If after a few weeks, the pain is gone, we can resume our usual activities, but progressively. We should not rush.
Regarding main actions we can take to reduce tibia pain:
- Applying ice on our legs several times/ day for few days, or till the pain is gone
- Doing stretching exercise
- Intaking anti-inflammatories to relieve pain (Medications should be prescribed by our healthcare medical professional)
- Using proper footwear, insoles, or specific orthopedic devices that help cushion the impact when we walk
- Going to a physiotherapist/ osteopath, who can use treatments to relieve our pain. A professional physiotherapist, or an osteopath, can also teach us useful exercises and routines to strengthen leg muscles.
Most important of all: We are the maximum responsible for taking care of our body, of all the parts of our body, in order to be healthier. We must be aware of our capabilities, and also of our limits. So, let’s do physical activities and exercises that benefit our health! Let’s avoid activities that we are not physically trained to do.
Pictures of Tibia Bone
Additional pictures of tibia bone:
Picture 4: Atherosclerosis
Picture 5: Tibia shaft fracture
Picture 6: Tendonitis
Picture 7: Overload Fracture
Picture 8: Anterior Compartment Syndrome