Complications of a broken leg may include:

  • Knee or ankle pain. A broken bone in your leg may produce pain in your knee or ankle.
  • Poor or delayed healing. A severe leg fracture may not heal quickly or completely. This is particularly common in an open fracture of your tibia because of lower blood flow to this bone. Fractures that occur in people who use tobacco may take longer to heal and be at higher risk of nonunion.
  • Bone infection (osteomyelitis). If you have an open fracture, your bone may be exposed to fungi and bacteria that can cause infection.
  • Nerve or blood vessel damage. Fracture of the leg can injure adjacent nerves and blood vessels. Seek immediate medical help if you notice any numbness or circulation problems.
  • Compartment syndrome. This neuromuscular condition causes pain, swelling and sometimes disability in muscles near the broken bone. This is a rare complication that is more common with high-impact injuries, such as a car or motorcycle accident.
  • Arthritis. Fractures that extend into the joint and poor bone alignment can cause osteoarthritis years later. If your leg starts to hurt long after a break, see your doctor for an evaluation.
  • Unequal leg length. The long bones of a child grow from the ends of the bones, in softer areas called growth plates. If a fracture goes through a growth plate, that limb might eventually become shorter or longer than the opposite limb.
Jul. 07, 2011