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A femur fracture is a break in the thighbone. The femur can be fractured in three areas: the head/neck of the bone (e.g., the upper end, near the pelvis), the main shaft of the bone, or the lower end near the knee.
The femur is the longest and strongest bone in the body; because it is so strong, it usually takes a lot of force to break it. That’s why the most common causes of femur fracture are high-speed trauma, such as a motor vehicle or motorcycle accidents; a fall from a high place; an injury during extreme or contact sports; or a preexisting bone disease that weakens the bone, such as a tumor, Paget disease, bone cysts or osteoporosis.
While most femur fractures are not preventable, some risk factors can be minimized with proper training techniques. Gradual increase in activity intensity and duration allow the body to respond to the increased load stresses. Maintaining proper footwear and not allowing footwear to break down, adequate rest periods in training, and good nutrition are also important aspects of prevention.
A femoral shaft fracture usually causes immediate, severe pain. You will not be able to put weight on the injured leg, and it may look deformed—shorter than the other leg and no longer straight.
A femur fracture is a serious injury that is diagnosed by a physician, usually in an emergency room. The doctor will check for all of the signs and symptoms of a fracture. After the visual inspection, your doctor will then feel along your thigh, leg and foot looking for abnormalities and checking the tightness of the skin and muscles around your thigh. He or she will also feel for pulses. Your doctor will test for sensation and movement in your leg and foot. Then, your doctor will order an X-ray or CT scan to confirm the fracture and identify where it is located within the femur.
Most femoral shaft fractures require surgery to heal. However, very young children are sometimes treated with a cast. Treatment of a femur fracture usually involves extensive treatment in the hospital or a rehabilitative facility.