A femur fracture is a crack, break or crush injury to the thigh bone. Smaller, simpler fractures of the femur do not typically require surgery. However, others that completely break the bone, cause the bone to be crushed or displaced need immediate surgery.
Symptoms of a femur fracture
A fracture in the thigh bone can bring about the following symptoms:
- Inability to stand or move the leg
- Swelling in the hip region
- Bleeding from an open wound
- Deformity of the thigh bone region
- Thigh muscle spasms
- Tingling or numbness in the leg
Diagnosing the condition
This is a serious injury that is usually diagnosed by a physician. The physician will look for symptoms of a fracture mentioned above along with the help of an X-ray or CT scan.
Based on the nature of the injury, treatment may involve immediate admission to the hospital for surgery or extensive treatment in a rehabilitation facility.
Because the femur is so strong, it often takes a lot of force to break it.
- The cause is usually some type of high energy collisions such as a car or motorcycle accident.
- A severe sports injury could also have the effect for athletes of young people.
- Even a low force incident such as a fall can cause a broken femur in individuals with weak bones.
- In the elderly, broken femur may be caused by a slip or fall.
Most people who receive specialized treatment for a femur fracture are admitted in a long-term nursing or rehabilitation facility.
Full recovery can take anywhere from 12 weeks to 12 months. Yet, many patients can start walking much earlier with the help of a physical therapist.
In case of surgery, recovery times can vary based on the following considerations:
- Timing of surgery will depend on if the skin around the fracture is broken or not. Open fractures expose the injury site to the environment and need to be treated immediately.
- External fixation requires metal screws or pins to be placed into the bone. For patients who need temporary stability before the final surgery, this can add to the recovery times.
- Intramedullary nailing means inserting a specially designed metal rod to keep the nail and bone in proper position during healing.
How is physical therapy helpful?
Physical therapists design individual treatment plans for every patient. The program is devised to limit broken femur complications and includes exercises that help the patients resume a normal level of activity.
Physical therapy can be helpful by addressing the following issues after injury or surgery:
- Reduction in pain levels by using heat or ice therapy
- Resuming motion in the hip, leg and back with exercise and stretching
- Improving strength with exercise to tone and firm muscles
- Stabilizing balance using weights, resistance bands or other devices
- Regaining walking ability
- Speed up healing
- Return to daily activities by deciding on recovery goals and the safest methods to achieve them
- Prevent future re-injury by engineering a home exercise program to strengthen and stretch muscles around the injured area