A femoral fracture is a break in the thigh bone, which is called the femur. It runs from the hip to the knee. It is the longest and strongest bone in the body. It usually requires a great deal of force to break the femur.
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A femoral fracture is usually caused by direct trauma to your femur. Trauma includes:
- Severe twists
A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting a femoral fracture.
Tell your doctor if you have any of these risk factors:
- Advancing age
- Decreased muscle mass
Certain diseases that weaken bones, such as
- Participation in certain contact sports, such as football
- 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 injured leg, such as shortening or abnormal twisting
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms, physical activity, and how the injury happened. The injured area will also be examined.
You may have
to look for a break in the bone.
Treatment will depend on the location and severity of your injury. Treatment involves:
Putting the pieces of the bone back in position, which may require
- Keeping the pieces together while the bone heals
Devices that may be used to hold the bone in place while it heals include:
- A cast (rarely used except 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. This is to ensure that the bones have not shifted position.
Once home, follow your doctor's
When your doctor decides you are ready, you will start range-of-motion and strengthening exercises. You may be referred to a physical therapist to assist you. Do not return to sports until your leg is fully healed and your thigh muscle strength is back to normal.
A fractured femur is a serious injury that takes 3-6 months to heal.
To help prevent femoral fractures:
- Do not put yourself at risk for trauma to the femur.
Eat a diet rich in
- 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.
- Femoral fracture has been linked to osteoporosis (thinned bones) in people over age 55. Be sure to find out if you have osteoporosis. Follow any treatment recommendations for this condition to help prevent further fractures.
Cummings-Vaughn LA, Gammack JK. Falls, osteoporosis, and hip fractures.
MedClin North Am. 2011 May;95(3):495-506.
Last reviewed September 2012 by John C. Keel, MD
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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