Definition

A femoral fracture is a break in the thigh bone. It runs from the hip to the knee.

Femoral Fracture
Femur Fracture

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Causes

This injury is caused by trauma from:

  • A motor vehicle accident
  • Falls
  • A blow
  • Gunshot wounds
  • Stress on a weakened bone

Risk Factors

Things that may raise the risk are:

  • Having a health problem that may result in falls, such as weak muscles
  • Playing contact sports, such as football
  • Playing sports that require repetitive motion, such as running
  • Being around violence

Symptoms

Symptoms may be:

  • Pain and swelling
  • Problems standing or moving
  • Changes in the way the leg looks

Diagnosis

The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. You will be asked how the injury happened. An exam will be done, focusing on your leg.

Images may be taken of the break. This can be done with:

Treatment

It will take four to six months to heal. Most people will need surgery. The doctor will need to put these pieces back into place. This may be done:

  • Without surgery—anesthesia will be used while the doctor moves the pieces back into place
  • With surgery—pins, screws, plates, or a rod may be needed to reconnect the pieces and hold them in place

Supportive Care

The goals of treatment are to manage pain and support the bone as it heals. This may include:

  • Medicine to ease pain
  • A cast or splint to keep the leg in place as it heals
  • A walker or crutches to keep weight off the leg
  • Exercises to help with strength and range of motion

Children's bones have growth plates that let bones grow and harden with age. A child with a fracture may need to be checked over time to make sure the bone heals the right way and keeps growing.

Prevention

Most fractures are due to accidents. Always wear a seatbelt. Healthy bones and muscles may also prevent injury. This may be done through diet and exercise.

RESOURCES:

American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine
http://www.sportsmed.org

Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
http://www.orthoinfo.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Canadian Orthopaedic Association
http://www.coa-aco.org

Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation
http://www.canorth.org

REFERENCES:

Femoral shaft fracture—emergency management. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:https://www.dynamed.com/management/femoral-shaft-fracture-emergency-management. Accessed September 24, 2019.

Femur shaft fractures (broken thighbone). Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00521. Updated May 2018. Accessed September 24, 2019.

Femoral stress fracture. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:https://www.dynamed.com/condition/femoral-stress-fracture. Updated May 3, 2018. Accessed September 24, 2019.

Tins BJ, Garton M, et al. Stress fracture of the pelvis and lower limbs including atypical femoral fractures-a review. Insights Imaging. 2015 Feb;6(1):97-110.

Last reviewed September 2019 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Warren A. Bodine, DO, CAQSM  Last Updated: 9/24/2019