Femur Shaft Fractures: Symptoms, Treatment, & Recovery
Because the femur is the longest and strongest bone in the human body, it takes a lot of pressure to break. As a result, femur shaft fractures most often occur due to high-energy collisions in contact sports, car accidents, and serious falls.
Femur shaft fractures can be life-threatening, and individuals should seek treatment immediately. In addition to necessary surgery, this injury typically requires physiotherapy to heal. In most cases, one can expect a recovery time of between three and six months.
What Causes Femur Shaft Fractures?
Femur fractures primarily result from high-impact collisions like falling from great heights or vehicle accidents. However, high-intensity sporting activities that exhibit extreme force on the body, like rugby or ice hockey, could also result in this broken bone. A lesser-impact movement, such as falling, can also cause this condition in elderly people with osteoporosis.
Femur Shaft Fracture Risk Factors
Certain factors may make you susceptible to getting a femur shaft fracture. They include:
Osteoporosis is a common condition among elderly individuals. It involves the loss of bone density, which makes it easier for bones to break, even without a lot of force.
Lack of Physical Activity
Physical activity strengthens muscles and bones. Consequently, avoiding exercise and regular activity weakens the femur, increasing its chances of breaking.
Symptoms of Femur Shaft Fractures
A femur fracture is unbearable, and you most likely won’t be able to walk afterward. Femur shaft fracture symptoms include:
- Immediate severe pain
- Bruised or swollen thigh
- Trouble moving the leg
- Femur bone punching against the skin
- Shorter injured leg
- Inability to walk
- Part of the femur cutting through the skin
How Is Femur Shaft Fracture Diagnosed?
Orthopedic specialists diagnose femur shaft fractures by observing the injured leg using several methods. For example, they may rely on X-rays, MRI, or CT scans to determine the extent of the injury. These approaches can also help identify the type of fracture that has occured.
Consequently, there are several types of femur shaft fractures: transverse, spiral, oblique, comminuted, and open or compound.
Treatment for Femur Shaft Fractures
There are two types of treatment for femur shaft fractures, non-surgical and surgical. In non-surgical treatment (primarily used on children), a cast is placed over the injured area to maintain bone alignment during healing.
Surgical treatment for femur shaft fractures often happens within 24 to 48 hours after the incident. Delayed treatment should only occur when stabilizing other life-threatening injuries you may have suffered.
Before surgery, individuals receive antibiotics to prevent infections in any open injuries. After cleaning open wounds, the injured leg is placed in traction or a long leg splint to keep the bones aligned and relieve pain.
Femur shaft fracture surgeries include:
- External Fixation
- Intramedullary Nailing
- Screws and Plates
External fixations keep the fractured bones together. This procedure involves placing screws or metal pins above and below the broken area, then attaching them to a bar outside the leg.
External fixations are easy and quick to apply. They are more common when the patient isn’t ready for the total surgery or if they have suffered other serious injuries.
An external fixator is temporary and comes off when the patient is ready for surgery. Although rare, it may be left till the fracture heals if it’s indispensable.
Intramedullary nailing is the most common treatment for femur shaft fractures. With this method, a surgeon inserts a specialized metal rod into the canal at the knee or hip. This piece helps to keep the fracture in the proper position.
Next, they place screws and nails below and above the fracture to keep the leg aligned correctly as the bones recover. Intramedullary nails are titanium-based and come in various sizes to fit all fractures and patients.
Screws and Plates
Intramedullary nailing isn’t practical if the fracture extends into the knee joints or hip. Therefore, plates and screws are more suitable to keep the leg aligned when this injury occurs.
Bone fragments are first placed in their natural position and attached with plates and screws to the bone’s outer surface.
Femur Shaft Fractures Recovery Time
Femur fracture recovery times range between three to six months. Some injuries may take longer if they are open, the bones break into many pieces, or the patient’s health isn’t optimal. For example, someone who smokes could take longer to recover.
Exercises are crucial for quick recovery. Physiotherapy exercises for femur shaft fractures include straight leg raises, bridges, standing hip extensions, and clamshells.
How Can I Prevent Femur Shaft Fractures?
The most effective way to prevent femur shaft fractures is to eat a diet rich in calcium and Vitamin D, essential in bone tissue growth. You could also avoid osteoporosis by doing weight-bearing exercises.
Fall prevention measures like putting railings on staircases, ensuring adequate lighting, and avoiding slippery surfaces also help to reduce your chances of breaking your femur.
Expert Hip Care at Raleigh Orthopaedic
Raleigh Orthopaedic offers the best musculoskeletal care in Wake County. Our orthopedic specialists are proficient in the diagnosis and treatment of various hip issues, including pain, bursitis, arthritis, hip dislocation, strains, and snapping hip-to-femur shaft fractures. Entrusting us with your femur shaft fracture care will be the best decision for your recovery.
Don’t let femur shaft fractures ruin your everyday life. Help is only a call away. Contact Raleigh Orthopaedic today.