Your Easy & Proven Tibial Plateau Fracture Rehab Protocol


Your tibial plateau supports most of your body weight. It’s heavily built and designed to withstand a lot of heavy lifting, so tibial plateau fractures are rare – but they can happen.

An effective treatment regimen and healthy lifestyle choices can get patients back on their feet. However, most patients are understandably unhappy about not finding an effective solution quickly. In this guide, we’ll help you get a clear picture of what a good rehab plan should look like and what to expect during recovery. Depending on the extent of the injury, your rehab protocol might span a few weeks to a few months. Your physical therapist will work hand-in-hand with you throughout the time, assisting you with massage therapies, workout regimes, and medications.

By figuring out and applying the right treatment program early enough, you’ll not only enjoy a quicker recovery, but you’ll also prevent many long-term symptoms and complications that might linger.

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What is a Tibial Plateau Fracture?

The tibial plateau is a strip of bone extending from your knee down to your shin. It’s the front and center of your knee’s ligament structure and is also embedded in the knee cartilage (knee cap).

The position of your tibial plateau makes it naturally built for high performance. It’s designed to bear most of your body weight when you’re walking, hiking, running, or jumping. Except in individuals with risk factors like osteoporosis and rheumatoid arthritis, tibial plateau fractures almost always occur from high-energy events.

Risk factors that increase the likelihood of getting tibial plateau fractures include:

  • Sports accident
  • Car accidents
  • Skeletomuscular conditions like osteoporosis
  • Chronic stroke
  • Diabetes
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • A fall (especially in seniors aged 70 and older, who grapple with frail bone health)

Depending on the intensity of impact, the tibial plateau can sustain slight fractions or be broken into many pieces. In many cases, the high-impact event usually causes extensive damage, making it common for patients to damage their knee ligaments, soft tissue, and other skeletomuscular structures.

Patients usually deal with pain and swelling in the legs and experience movement difficulties. Specifically, common symptoms associated with tibial plateau fractures include:

  • Sharp pains in the lower leg
  • Numb or tingling foot
  • Physical deformity in the lower leg or ankle area
  • A piece of bone jutting out of the skin around the knee
  • Difficulties walking, running, or carrying weight
  • Difficulties bending the knee

While your chances of recovery depend on individual factors, most patients usually pull through successfully. Factors like your original fitness levels, medical history, and lifestyle choices can fast-track recovery.

But those falling short with these factors can still make up for it with the intervention of a well-trained physical therapist. A physical therapist will examine you thoroughly and then craft and implement a tailored recovery plan based on the nature of the injury, the resultant symptoms, your medical history, and other factors.

How Do I Strengthen My Knee After a Tibial Plateau Fracture?

For a quicker recovery, it’s imperative to seek medical attention after noticing symptoms of a tibial plateau fracture. If you don’t get diagnosed and treated soon enough, you might have symptoms for much longer than necessary and also risk developing longer-term health issues.
A physical therapist’s first priority is to help you cope with the symptoms while your rehab gets underway. They may apply short-term measures for pain relief while also focusing on preventing chronic pain and long-term symptoms like stiff joints. 

If the fracture is really severe, you might require surgery, where the surgeons will bind together the fractured components. This is usually followed by physical therapy and post-operative care. 

Surgeons may have a preferred physical therapy regime, or they can leave it up to you. In either case, the priority will be to reduce symptoms like inflammation and pain, prevent short-term and long-term complications, and jumpstart the recovery process. 

As you begin recovering, the first priority will be your knee’s range of motion and non-weight-bearing activities. Gradually, you’ll get into more intense sessions to enable you to build back your physical capabilities.

The timing and fine details of the recovery plan are tailored to each individual’s needs, but they normally include several weeks of exercises and appointments with physical therapists.

How Long Does it Take to Walk Again After a Tibial Plateau Fracture?

A number of factors will determine your recovery period, but one of the primary determinants is whether you’ve had surgery or not. This will depend on the nature of the injury and your overall health status. 

Thankfully, surgery is only required when there’s bone displacement, which doesn’t happen in many cases. Cracks can heal in a matter of 3-4 months without surgery. But if surgery is required, you’ll need no less than six months to recover. 

Rather than just working on your knee range of motion, you’ll first have to spend about 4 months recovering from the surgery itself. Afterward, you’ll then go into physical therapy to begin recovering your movement and weight-bearing capacities.

In general, tibial plateau fracture rehab protocols span three stages:

Non-Weight Bearing

  • Hold the knee up above your heart for a couple of days
  • Use pain medications, ice, and other measures managing for pain, inflammation, and swelling

Use an assistive device like a cricket pad splint, braces, or crutches for 6 weeks.

Exercises to try include:

  • Passive and active knee range of motion exercises (some therapists expect you to achieve 0-130° knee motion at this stage)
  • Patella mobility drills
  • Lower body stretches
  • Upper-body cardio exercises
  • Gait training with crutches
  • Stationary bike and pool exercises

Partial Weight Bearing Stage

This might span a couple more months (up to 6 months) after the first phase. The aim is to further straighten your knees, enabling you to walk and regain standing posture in preparation for the gym and/or return to sports.

  • Continue with early stretching exercises
  • Begin carrying weight – up to 25% of your body weight first, then increasing by 10% every day

Aim to master your normal posture and bear weight on the healing knee.

Exercises to try include:

  • Active knee ROM exercises
  • Weight-bearing exercises
  • Gait training
  • Lower-body exercises like squats, calve raises, and leg raises
  • Advanced stationary bike and treadmill workouts
  • Proprioception workouts

Full Weight Bearing Stage

Once you’ve mastered the partial weight regimen, you can then proceed to advanced stages of rehab where you push and pull for full range of knee motion, core strength, endurance, and other physical attributes.

By this time, you should be returning to your normal daily life and ready to hit the gym or sports training facilities. However, a full return to sports for professional athletes might take up to 12 months.

Start gym workouts for building strength and body balance.

Exercises to try include:

  • Hamstring curls
  • Unilateral drills
  • Squats
  • Gait training
  • Leg press: Return to sports training
  • Cardiovascular training
  • Continue advanced strengthening exercises
  • Start functional cord and pool running programs
  • Begin sport-specific exercises
  • Visit your physiotherapist regularly


A tibial plateau fracture is a highly delicate injury that requires nothing short of a clinical approach. But with proper intervention from a physical therapist, you can easily manage the symptoms and recover quickly. At Fit Club NY, we can fast-track your recovery from a tibial plateau fracture with tailored exercise regimens. Call today or stop by our state-of-the-art Chelsea, Manhattan, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, or Astoria, Queen’s facilities in New York City.
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