Brief Outline of Femur Fracture
It takes tremendous force to fracture the femur due to its strength, as well as the supporting musculature. Football, hockey, and other high impact sports are often associated with femur fractures.
Anatomy and physiology
The femur, also known as the thigh bone, is the heaviest, longest, and strongest bone in the body. Its proximal end has a ball-like head that articulates with the pelvic bone at the acetabulum and forms the hip joint. Distally are the lateral and medial condyles, which articulate with the tibia to form the knee joint. The quadriceps, hamstrings, adductor and abductor muscles surround the femur. The femur is more likely to fracture at the femoral neck, as it is smaller in diameter than the rest of the bone, and is composed of cancellous bone, which has a relatively low density. This would usually involve a hard impact, or excessive landing force from a high fall. The femur may also fracture along the shaft, which is usually caused by tremendous impact from a motor vehicle accident or sheering force across the femur.
Cause of Femur Fracture
Super high impact across the femur, such as a car accident or aggressive tackle in football. High impact directed through the femur such as from landing from a high fall. Direct impact on the upper portion of the hip.
Signs and symptoms
Severe pain. Deformity and possible shortening of leg length. Swelling and discolouration. Inability to move the leg or bear weight.
Complications if left unattended
Permanent disability will result if this injury is left untreated. The large amount of blood loss due to internal injuries to the muscles and arteries could lead to shock and death.
Surgery is usually required to fix the fracture.
Rehabilitation and prevention
Femur fractures involve extensive rehabilitation due to the time involved in healing and the musculature involved. The bone will most likely need to be surgically repaired with a plate, rod or pins, which increases the rehabilitation time. Rehabilitation will usually involve a physical therapist working on range of motion and strengthening of the muscles.
Prevention of a femur fracture requires avoiding activities that might result in high impact on the femur. Strengthening the muscles of the quadriceps, hamstrings, adductors, and abductors will also provide extra protection for the femur.
With immediate treatment and repair of the femur along with rehabilitation to strengthen the supporting muscles, there should be no long-term limitations. Full recovery may take up to nine months.