The femur bone runs from the hip to the knee and is the longest and strongest bone in the body. It usually requires a great deal of force to break the femur bone.
A femur fracture is usually caused by direct trauma to the bone. Trauma includes:
Risk factors that increase your chances of fracturing your femur include:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms, physical activity, and how the injury occurred, and will examine the injured area.
Tests may include x-rays, which use radiation to take a picture of structures inside the body, especially bones. X-rays are used to look for a break in the bone.
Treatment will depend on the severity of the injury. Treatment involves:
Devices that may be used to hold the bone in place while it heals include:
Your doctor will order additional x-rays while the bone heals to ensure that the bones have not shifted position. A fractured femur is a serious injury that takes three to six months to heal.
When your doctor decides you are ready, start range-of-motion and strengthening exercises. You may be referred to a physical therapist to assist you with these exercises. Do not return to sports until your leg is fully healed and your thigh muscle strength is back to normal.
To help prevent femur fractures:
Since femoral fractures are nearly always results of falls or other accidents, there is not much that can be done to prevent them. However, there are steps you can take to aid in the prevention of fractures:
The key to improving sports performance after recovering from a femoral fracture is a proper a rehabilitation program, and adhering to some of those same principles after the injury is gone.
The single most important aspect of improving performance is stretching before and after you step onto the field, court, ice, or golf course.
Benefits derived from stretching include:
As an athlete, your number one concern is getting back to full strength as soon as possible so that you can return to training and competition. That is why appropriate rehabilitation is extremely important.
When your doctor decides you are ready, start range-of-motion and strengthening exercises. You may be referred to a physical therapist to assist you with these exercises.
Remember: Do not return to sports until your leg is fully healed. The major objectives of rehabilitation from a femoral fracture are to improve the strength of the leg and gradually increase pain-free range of motion.
Exercise will keep your joints from becoming stiffer, and it strengthens the muscles surrounding the joints. Strong muscles provide needed support, making movement easier and reducing pain.
The exercises below will help you accomplish this. To get the most out of these exercises and get you back in the game as quickly as possible, you should gradually increase the number of repetitions and sets as pain allows.
Keep in mind that if your femoral fracture requires surgery the soft tissue needs time to heal before exercise can begin.
A physical therapy program usually begins with range-of-motion and resistive exercises, then incorporates power, aerobic and muscular endurance, flexibility, and coordination drills.
Finally, patients develop speed and agility through sport-specific exercise routines.
The ultimate goal of surgery for a femoral fracture is to put the pieces of bone together so that they heal themselves. This will help provide dynamic stability while maintaining full range of motion, so that athletes can return to competitive or recreational sports. Progress is assessed by the patient's perception of how stable the leg feels and by comparing the strength and stability of the injured and uninjured leg.
Because a femoral fracture is a very serious injury, and requires extensive physical therapy, it usually takes 3 to 6 months to heal. You may safely return to your sport or activity when the bones are healed and you have full strength and range of motion in the injured leg compared to the uninjured leg.
Some may be ready for full participation in 3 to 4 months, others not for 6 to 8 months or more. Of course, time for return to activity is much longer if surgery is necessary.
Remember: The goal of rehabilitation is to return you to your sport or activity as soon as is safely possible. If you return too soon you may worsen your injury, which could lead to permanent damage. Everyone recovers from injury at a different rate. Return to your activity is determined by how soon your femoral fracture recovers, not by how many days or weeks it has been since your injury occurred.