Fractured Femur: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatments

Fractured Femur Overview

A fractured femur is not only a very painful leg injury, but it is a serious one too with the mortality rate in people over the age of 65 years being extremely high. If you sustained a fractured femur and would like to know more about this type of severe leg injury, the common causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment, this guide provides essential reading.

Fractured femur

Fractured femur

If you are worried about an initial diagnosis, you may find that you would qualify for a free orthopaedic assessment of your NHS broken bone report which could highlight anything that has been overlooked. You may even find that you would be entitled to free private treatment and physiotherapy in your area which could help your through a fractured femur healing process.

To find out more about fractured femur injuries and whether you qualify for any free medical treatment, please click on a the Select a Section below.

Select a Section

What is the Definition of a Fractured Femur?

Your femur is one of the largest and toughest bones in your body and as such, sustaining a fracture takes a lot of force. Also known as your thigh bone, when you suffer a femur neck fracture, it can take long time to mend and heal which is typically anything up to 6 months. If an elderly person suffers a fracture to the femur, it can take even longer and could prove life threatening due to the shock and the trauma of sustaining such a severe leg injury.

There are various types of fractured femur injuries you could sustain with some being minor whereas others are a lot more severe. These are detailed below:

  • A stress fracture – where you sustain a hairline or very minor fracture to your thighbone which is typically caused as a result of overuse or excessive stress on your femur
  • An undisplaced fractured femur – where you sustain a minor fracture to your thighbone which is an injury where the damaged bones are still in alignment and little damage to the surrounding soft tissue has occurred
  • A displaced fractured femur – where the injury is severe with the damaged bones no longer lining up. This type of severe leg injury typically requires that you undergo surgery in order to reset damaged bones so they are realigned
  • A comminuted fractured femur – where the bones in your thighbone have been shattered. You would need to undergo surgery to repair the extensive bone damage that has occurred
  • A compound fractured femur – where the bone is not only broken, but where the bone is exposed through broken skin

If you suspect that you have suffered a severe injury to your leg, you should seek medical attention without delay, bearing in mind that the mortality rate in people over the age of 65 is frighteningly high more especially in the first twelve month following such a serious injury to the leg.

What are the Most Common Causes of a Fractured Femur?

It takes a lot to fracture your thighbone which, as previously touched upon is the strongest bone in your entire body. With this said, the most common causes of such a severe injury to your leg includes the following:

  • Direct blunt force trauma – this can occur as a result of being involved in a road traffic accident or by falling from a significant height
  • Osteoporosis – health issues that result in weakened bones puts you more at risk of suffering a fracture to the femur which is often seen in the elderly
  • Stress – you can sustain a hairline fracture to a femur which often occurs when playing sports that put a lot of stress on your thighbone

What are the Symptoms of a Fractured Femur?

Fractured femur injuries can be life-threatening more especially in the elderly. This type of fracture to one of the largest bones in your body is also extremely painful. Other symptoms associated with a fracture to the femur include the following:

  • Extreme pain
  • Severe bruising
  • Swelling
  • An inability to bear any weight on your injured leg
  • Your leg may be misshapen
  • If you sustain an open fracture, your thighbone may be poking through the broken skin
  • You may feel faint and nauseous if you suffer a fracture to your thighbone

If you experience any of the above symptoms following a road traffic accident, a fall, while playing sports or any other incident that left you with a suspected broken femur, you should seek medical attention without delay.

When Should I Seek Medical Attention for a Fractured Femur?

This is a very serious fracture that could result in you going into shock. As such, you must seek medical attention as a matter of urgency should you suspect you sustained a fractured thighbone. You should go to your hospital’s Accident and Emergency department so your leg injury can be thoroughly examined and treated sooner rather than later. If you cannot get to A&E, you must call for an ambulance and be stretched to the hospital. You should immobilise your leg and avoid trying to move it which could result in more damage being done a fractured thighbone.

How is a Fractured Femur Diagnosed?

Once you are in A&E, a doctor would carry out a thorough physical examination of your injured leg and they would ask how the injury was sustained. They might also want to know about your medical history, whether you sustained a similar injury in the past and if you suffer from osteoporosis or any other health issue that results in weakened bones.

To confirm an initial diagnosis for a suspected fractured femur, a doctor would want to carry out a series of tests which includes the following:

  • A series of x-rays taken from different angles
  • An MRI scan to determine if it is a hairline fracture and would establish the extent of any soft tissue damage

How is a Fractured Femur Treated?

Fractured femur treatment

Fractured femur treatment

If you suffer a fractured femur which has been confirmed through various tests, a doctor would set in place a treatment plan that suits the type of fracture your sustained. With this said, the initial treatment would involve the following:

  • Immobilising your injured leg by placing it in a splint
  • Administering pain relief medication to help you cope with the extreme pain and discomfort associated with this type of serious fracture
  • You may be given oxygen

Simple fractured femur treatment

  • Your injured leg would be placed in a broken femur splint or cast
  • You would be prescribed pain relief medication to help you cope for the first few days once you are discharged from hospital

Severe fractured femur treatment

  • The damaged thigh bone may need reduction to realign broken thigh bones – this can be done by manipulating the bones while you are under a local anaesthetic or you may have to undergo surgery on your leg which is done under general anaesthetic
  • Your leg would be placed in a cast before you are discharged from hospital

Could I Qualify for Free Medical Care for a Fractured Femur?

If you are unhappy with an NHS diagnosis or treatment, you may find that you qualify for free private medical care for a fractured femur. NHS treatment is good, but it can never be as effective as the medical care your receive in a private facility, bearing in mind that you could be back to your normal self sooner, safely than if you relied on NHS fractured femur treatment alone.

To find out more about free private medical care for a fractured femur in your area, please get in touch with one of our health experts today who would tell you straight away whether you qualify for this and any rehabilitation services too.

What Sort of Free Medical Care is Available for a Fractured Femur?

You may be entitled to receive free treatment in your area for a fractured femur and you may also qualify for medical aids which could help speed up your recovery. You could also be entitled to receive free private physiotherapy aftercare locally. The medical aids you could receive free of charge includes the following:

  • A pair of custom-fitted crutches to help you get around
  • A wheelchair

To find out what sort of treatment you may be entitled to receive in your area, please get in touch with one of our health experts today.

Are There Any Complications Associated with a Fractured Femur?

Because a fractured thighbone is such a serious injury, there are some known complications which are detailed below:

  • Infection – more especially following surgery where plates, screws and pins have been used to keep damaged bone aligned
  • Bone infection – if you underwent surgery, it puts you more at risk of developing an infection in your bone. You would be prescribed a course of antibiotics but this does not guarantee that the infection would be cleared up and as such, you may have to undergo further surgery
  • Compartment syndrome – this is a condition that flares up when the muscles in your thigh swell up in the cast. The result is that blood is unable to drain which in turn leads to extreme pain and swelling. You may have to undergo surgery to relieve any pressure that builds up
  • Nerve damage – this can lead to you losing some or all function as well as feeling in an affected leg

If you suspect that you have developed any of the above following surgery on your fractured femur, you must seek medical attention as a matter of urgency.

I Think My Doctor Missed Something When Diagnosing My Fractured Femur?

If you are unhappy with something in your NHS diagnosis and/or the treatment you are receiving, you should carry out as much research on fractured thighbone injuries to allay your fears or confirm your suspicions. The links provided at the bottom of the page offer essential reading on this type of serious leg injury.

How Long Does a Fractured Femur Take to Heal?

If you sustained a minor fracture to a femur, the recovery time can be anything from 6 to 8 weeks but you would need to undergo rehabilitation in order to make a full recovery from this type of serious leg injury. The same injury in an elderly person would take a lot longer to mend and heal which can be anything up to 12 months whereas in younger people this tends to be around 6 months.

Once you are discharged from hospital, you would have to take things easy and keep any weight off your injured leg for anything up to 6 to 8 weeks. This could mean you are on crutches on in a wheelchair for this amount of time. When it comes to having your cast removed, the doctor would recommend that you do specific fractured femur exercises with an end goal being to strengthen the muscles in your injured leg which would have become weak during the time your leg was in a cast.

It is also important to keep follow-up appointments which allows a doctor to check on the progress of your injury and to make sure no complications have developed. You may find that a doctor would want to take more x-rays of your injured leg to determine whether a damaged bone is mending. You should also be prepared to attend follow-up appointments every 14 days which could be for anything up to six months.

Can I Safely Speed Up My Fractured Femur Healing Time?

Because your injured leg would be in a cast for anything up to 8 weeks, the muscles will be weaker when the cast is removed. The best way to improve the strength in your leg safely, is to undergo physiotherapy and receiving a tailored programme to suit your injuries and lifestyle could help get you back on your feet sooner.

To find out whether you would qualify for free private physiotherapy aftercare following an accident that left you with a fractured femur, please speak to one of our health experts today who can tell you straight away what physio is available local to you.

Are There Any Long Term Health Issues Associated with a Fractured Femur?

As previously mentioned, a fractured femur is a severe leg injury that can leave you with long-term health issues. These include the following:

  • A permanent limp – more especially if your thigh bones do not mend as they should and remain slightly misaligned. The result is that you are left with a limp
  • Chronic discomfort and pain – this is especially true in elderly people who suffer this type of severe injury to a thighbone. All too often, the plates, screws and pins used to keep a damaged bone in place can cause pain and discomfort and in certain instances these have to be removed. In other cases, a patient might have to remain on pain relief medication for the long-term
  • A loss in height – should you have sustained severe damage to a thighbone, you may find that you lose a few inches in height

Get in Touch Today, It Takes a Few Minutes to Find Out What Free Treatment is Available

To find out more about fractured femur injuries and whether you would be entitled to free private medical care, free private physiotherapy aftercare and free medical aids which could help speed up your recovery, please call one of our health experts today who would tell you within minutes what is available locally to you and whether you qualify.

Call today on 020 3870 4868 our phone lines are open 7 days a week from 9 am to 11 pm. A health expert is waiting to take your call.

Helpful Links

If you sustained a broken leg, whether in a road traffic accident or other incident and would like more information on this type of severe injury, the following link provides very useful information:

More about broken legs

If you would like to know more about fractured neck of femur injuries, please follow the link below which takes you to the Musgrove Park Hospital website:

More information on fractured neck of femur injuries

If you would like to download an information leaflet on fractured femur injuries, please follow the link below which takes to an NHS website:

Fractured Femur information leaflet