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Femoral Fractures  
Femur Fracture

Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Definition  

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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Causes  

A femoral fracture is usually caused by direct trauma to your femur. Trauma may be caused by:

  • Car, motorcycle, or pedestrian collisions
  • Falls
  • Blows
  • Severe twists
  • Gunshot wounds

Femoral fractures may also be caused by low-impact trauma or spontaneous breaks from weakened bones.

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Risk Factors  

Older adults are at increased risk of femoral fracture.

Factors that may increase your risk of femoral fracture include:

  • Osteoporosis
  • Certain diseases or conditions that result in bone or mineral loss, such as abnormal or absent menstrual cycles or post- menopause
  • Certain diseases and conditions that weaken bones, such as tumors or cysts
  • Decreased muscle mass
  • Playing certain sports that may result in:
    • Spiral fractures—associated with collisions or falls from sports such as football or skiing
    • Stress fractures—associated with overuse or repetitive motion from sports such as distance running
  • Violence
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Symptoms  

Femoral fracture may cause:

  • Immediate and severe pain
  • Swelling and bruising around the area of the break
  • Inability to walk or stand and/or limited range of motion of the knee or hip
  • Deformity of the injured leg, such as shortening or abnormal twisting

Stress fractures occur slowly over time with repetitive motion. You may feel a dull ache rather than severe pain when you apply weight to your leg. Sometimes pain may be felt in your another part of your leg, such as your knee.

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Diagnosis  

You will be asked about your symptoms, physical activity, and how the injury happened. The injured area will also be examined.

Imaging tests may include:

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Treatment  

Proper treatment can prevent long-term complications or problems with your femur. Treatment will depend on how serious the fracture is, but may include:

Initial Care  

Extra support may be needed to protect, support, and keep your femur bone in line while it heals. Supportive steps may include a splint. A walker or crutches may be needed to help you move around while keeping weight off your leg. Casts are rarely used except in young children.

Some fractures cause pieces of bone to separate. Your doctor will need to put these pieces back into their proper place. This may be done:

  • Without surgery—you will have anesthesia to decrease pain 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

In most cases, surgery is needed to repair a femoral fracture.

Children’s bones are still growing at an area of the bone called the growth plate. If the fracture affected the growth plate, your child may need to see a specialist. Injuries to the growth plate will need to be monitored to make sure the bone can continue to grow as expected.

Medication  

The following medication may be advised:

  • Over-the-counter pain medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen
  • Prescription pain medication

Check with your doctor before taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen or aspirin.

Note: Aspirin is not recommended for children or teens with a current or recent viral infection. This is because of the risk of Reye syndrome. Ask your