Your femur (also known as the thigh) is the longest and strongest bone in your body extending from the hip joint all the way down to the knee joint. Because the femur is so strong, it usually takes a lot of force to break it. Breaking your femur can make everyday tasks much more difficult because it is one of the main bones used to walk.
Femur fractures vary greatly, depending on the force that causes the break. The bone fragments may line up correctly (stable fracture) or be out of alignment (displaced fracture), and the skin around the fracture may be intact (closed fracture) or punctured by the bone (open fracture).
The common types of femur fractures include:
- Transverse fracture – The break forms a straight horizontal line going across the femoral shaft.
- Oblique fracture – The break forms an angled line across the shaft.
- Spiral fracture – When a twisting movement causes a break, there may be a spiral-shaped fracture of the bone.
- Comminuted fracture – Occurs when the bone breaks into three or more pieces. In most cases, the number of bone fragments corresponds with the amount of force needed to break the bone.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
Symptoms of a femur fracture include:
- Immediate, severe pain
- Inability to put weight on the injured leg
- Deformity in the injured leg, where it appears to be shorter than the uninjured leg and looks crooked
WHAT ARE THE CAUSES?
A femur fracture is often due to high impact. Common causes include:
- Severe motor vehicle accidents
- Falling from a height
- If you are of older age and your bones are weaker, a fall can cause a broken femur
WHAT IS THE DIAGNOSIS?
A history of the injury and a physical examination of the leg will be conducted by the Doctor. Your doctor will want to know specifically how you hurt your leg, which will help him determine the diagnosis.
Imaging tests will be taken, such as an x-ray and a CT scan if more information is required. This way, he will be able to determine the type of femur fracture that you have and confirm the diagnosis.
WHAT ARE THE TREATMENT OPTIONS?
Most femur fractures are treated with surgery. The most common surgical method is Intramedullary Nailing.
This procedure involves a specially designed metal rod that is inserted into the canal of the femur, which passes across the fracture to keep it in position. A titanium nail (known as intramedullary nail) is inserted into the canal either at the hip or the knee, while screws are placed above and below the fracture to hold the leg in correct alignment while the bone heals. This keeps the nail and the bone in proper position during healing.
WHAT IS THE RECOVERY PROCESS AFTER A FEMUR FRACTURE?
On average, recovery period is 3 to 6 months. Should the patient experience an open fracture or if they have health issues, recovery period will be longer.
Medications will be prescribed to help with managing the pain. This includes NSAIDs, acetaminophen and topical pain medications.
Physiotherapy is also recommended to help you restore muscle strength, decrease stiffness and restore mobility in your leg. As your slowly recover from your injury and regain muscle strength, you will be able to put on more weight on your leg.
WHAT ARE THE RISKS AND COMPLICATIONS OF A FEMUR FRACTURE?
Some complications of a femur fracture include:
- Complications from surgery or the need for further surgeries
- Nerve, muscle, or blood vessel damage due to the sharp ends of broken bones
- Acute compartment syndrome, a painful condition that occurs when pressure within the muscles builds to dangerous levels. This results in a reduction in blood flow and may lead to permanent disability
- If the femur is not set properly, the leg may possibly become shorter than the other leg which may result in hip or knee pain many years later. Poor alignment of the femur bone may also be painful.