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The femur is the strongest and thickest bone in the body. It connects the hip joint and the knee joint. It takes an extremely strong force to break a femur. Sport injuries, car accidents and falls are the most likely causes of a broken femur. The following steps will help you during the recovery process.
Understand that a patient with a broken femur often suffers from severe pain and is unable to walk. You can observe significant swelling, bruising and deformity at the site of fracture. In some cases, you feel that the bone in your leg is moving. Based on these symptoms, your physician will order X-rays of your leg.
Know the different kinds of breaks. In a simple fracture, the femur is broken into two pieces. In a more complex case, the femur is broken into three or more pieces. Sometimes, the fracture is open and the bone is exposed. In a pathological femur fracture, the bone is weak and can easily break.
Keep in mind that the recommended treatment for a broken femur is surgery. Surgery for a broken femur may last three to four hours. In most cases, a metal rod, also known as the intramedullary rod, is inserted into the thigh bone. The intramedullary rod is held in place by screws. The rod can be taken out later if necessary. Casts are only used for broken femur in children but rarely used for healthy adults. The main complication of surgery for a broken femur is infection, which occurs in less than 1 percent of cases. Another complication is that your body might reject the rod.
Keep in mind that you will need to stay in the hospital for two to four days after the surgery. The length of the hospital stay depends on whether you can walk with crutches. A physical therapist will help you to learn how to use the crutches before going home.
Understand you will be on crutches for two to three months following the operation. Your doctor will schedule visits at two weeks, six weeks, 12 weeks, 24 weeks and one year. During each visit, X-rays of your fracture(s) will be taken. Based on the X-rays, the doctor will make decisions on how much weight you can put on the injured leg.
Know that in the first two to three weeks after the surgery, you will be in a lot of pain. Take pain medication regularly according to your doctor's recommendations. You can also use ice to relieve pain and reduce swelling. Elevating your leg also helps to relieve the pain.
Remember that physical therapy is very important in helping you to regain strength and mobility of your leg. Schedule appointments with your physical therapist at least once every two weeks. Understand that your physical therapist is also going to give you some exercises to do at home. The types of exercises will depend on the stage of your recovery. At the beginning of the recovery, the exercises will focus on getting your range of motion back, since your knee is going to be very stiff. When your broken bone shows some signs of healing, the exercises will focus on getting your muscle strength back.
In addition to physical therapy, you can try to do other exercises such as biking on a stationary bike or swimming. Walking in water is also a good exercise to rebuild muscle strength.
Listen closely and follow advice from your doctor and physical therapist. Be patient. You may damage your leg severely by doing too much too soon.
Keep in mind that in the worst case scenario, your broken bone might not heal. The probability of such event, also known as non-union, is 1 percent. Another surgery may be needed to take out the screws to accelerate bone growth.