In this Article

Symptoms

Some symptoms of a femoral fracture can include:

  • Intense pain in the area where the fracture occurs
  • Having a hard time moving your leg
  • Swelling
  • The leg is bent at the wrong angle, or appears shorter than the other leg
  • Bruising

When to See a Doctor

Femoral fractures are a serious injury and need to be treated quickly or the leg may not heal properly. If you suspect you have a fractured femur, seek medical help right away, especially if the skin is broken.

Causes

Femoral fractures are usually caused by:

  • Falls or impacts during activity
  • Direct trauma to the thigh or hip, as in a motorcycle or car accident
  • Diseases that weaken the bone—diseases that could increase the chance for a fracture include:
    • Osteoporosis
    • Cancer

Diagnosis and Tests

To diagnose a femoral fracture, your doctor will ask about your injury and your health history. The doctor will carefully examine your leg, looking for lumps, bumps, ne other damage. One of more imaging tests will be needed to determine the location and severity of the break.

  • X-ray. X-rays use low-level radiation called electromagnetic energy to takes a picture of the bone.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). MRI uses magnets and radio waves to look at the organs and soft tissues inside the body.
  • Computed Tomography Scan (CT or CAT scan). CT combines x-rays and computer software to create a detailed image of your body, including bones, organs, and muscles.

Treatments

Treatment options for femoral fractures can include:

  • Pain medicine. A broken femur can be very painful, and you may need pain medicine to decrease your pain.
  • Surgery. Surgery is often needed to fix a broken femur. Open fractures need to be cleaned and treated right away, since they come with a high risk of infection or other complications. The type of surgery will depend on where the femur is broke, and how severe the break is. Some methods include:
    • Metal pins, plates, or screws may be placed on the outside or inside of the leg and keep the bones connected and in place
    • Intramedullary nailing is a procedure in which a long, straight nail is placed in the center of bone and screwed into place. This repair helps to keep the pieces of the bone straight and connected.
  • A splint, sling, or cast. These may be used to keep the bones in place while they heal.
  • Traction. This is a way to stretch your leg so that it can stay straight. Traction may be applied shortly after the fracture occurs, or during the healing process.
  • Physical therapy. Physical therapy is usually recommended to help you get your leg back to its regular strength and fitness.

Prevention

You can lower your risk of a bone fracture by:

  • Eating a diet rich in dark leafy vegetables and calcium to decrease your risk of osteoporosis
  • Exercising regularly to keep your bones and muscles strong
  • Avoiding tobacco products of all kinds
  • Keeping your home free from clutter to avoid falls
  • Driving safely to avoid crashes and wearing your seatbelt at all times

Support and Resources

What are Femoral Fractures?

A femoral [FEM-er-uhl] fracture is a partial or complete break of your femur or thigh bone. The femur is the largest and strongest bone in the body.

Femoral fractures happen when the bone receives enough force to snap or twist it. This can happen during a fall, from a direct blow, or another kind of trauma, such as a car or motorcycle accident – the most common cause of femoral fractures.

Some diseases, like osteoporosis, [os-tee-oh-puh-ROH-sis] can weaken the bones so that they break more easily under force. Osteoporosis is most common in older women.

The severity of a fracture usually depends on 3 things:

  • Where on the bone the fracture is located
  • What the fracture looks like (the pattern)
  • Whether or not the skin and other tissues were injured

Another injury that’s related to a femoral fracture, and may happen at the same time, is an intertrochanteric [inn-ter-troh-KAN-ter-ik] fracture. An intertrochanteric fracture is a break in the top part of femur. It is also sometimes called a hip fracture. Since the thigh connects to the hip, these injuries often occur at the same time.