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Femoral Fracture
(Femur Fracture; Thigh Bone Fracture; Broken Leg)

Definition:
A femoral fracture is a break in the thigh bone, which is called the femur. The femur bone is also known as the thighbone. It runs from the hip to the knee and is the longest and strongest bone in the body. It usually requires a great deal of force to break the femur.

Causes:
A femoral fracture is usually caused by direct trauma to the bone. Trauma includes:
  • Falls
  • Blows
  • Collisions
  • Severe twists
Risk Factors:
A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting a disease, condition, or injury. Risk factors for a femoral fracture include:
  • Advancing age
  • Postmenopausal osteoporosis
  • Decreased muscle mass
  • Certain diseases that weaken bones, such as osteoporosis or cancer
  • Participation in certain contact sports, such as football
Symptoms:
Symptoms include:
  • Immediate and severe pain
  • Swelling and bruising around the area of the break
  • Inability to walk and/or limited range of motion of the knee or hip
  • Deformity of the leg, such as shortening or abnormal twisting of the injured leg
Diagnosis:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms, physical activity, and how the injury occurred, and will examine the injured area.

You may have one or more x-rays to look for a break in the bone. This is a test that uses radiation to take a picture of structures inside the body, especially bones.

Treatment:
Treatment will depend on the severity of the injury. Treatment involves:
  • Putting the pieces of the bone back in position, which may require anesthesia and/or surgery
  • Keeping the pieces together while the bone heals itself

Devices that may be used to hold the bone in place while it heals include:

  • A cast – rarely used and only in very young patients
  • A metal plate with screws (requires surgery)
  • A rod down the middle of the bone (requires surgery)
  • Metal pins that cross the bone, with a frame on the outside of the leg that holds the pins and the fractured bone in place (requires either general or local anesthesia)

Your doctor will order additional x-rays while the bone heals to ensure that the bones have not shifted position.

Exercises
When your doctor decides you are ready, you'll start hip and knee range-of-motion and hip and thigh strengthening exercises. You may be referred to a physical therapist to assist you with these exercises. Do not return to sports until your leg is fully healed and your thigh muscle strength is back to normal.

Healing Time
A fractured femur is a serious injury that takes 3-6 months to heal.

Prevention:
To help prevent femur fractures:
  • Do not put yourself at risk for trauma to the femur.
  • Eat a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D.
  • Build strong muscles to prevent falls and to stay active and agile.
  • Always wear a seatbelt when driving or riding in a car.
  • Wear proper padding and safety equipment when participating in sports or activities.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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