How do you fix a broken femur?

If you or a loved one have a femur fracture, then the probability that you or they will need surgery is very high. The femur is the biggest bone in the body and is surrounded by a lot of muscle and tissue. A femur fracture is a break anywhere in the femur bone. This can be all the way from the hip joint, down to the knee, and any anywhere in between. Breaking it usually causes a lot of pain, I should know, I’ve broken both of mine. 

What kinds of femur fractures are there?

Femur fractures fall into three main categories. Fractures of the hip, fractures of the shaft, and fractures of the femur near the knee (we call this a distal femur fracture). Fractures of the hip normally happen in people who are very old who fall, or in young adults who are involved in a high energy trauma. Hip fractures come in many different varieties, but suffice to say, that anyone who breaks their hip will need surgery. The hip doesn’t heal on its own and is incredibly painful without surgery. It doesn’t matter the age, or even if the person didn’t walk before they broke it, failing to fix a broken hip can have disastrous results. I don’t see too many femur fractures in my practice in Colorado Springs, but I used to work at a level 1 trauma center where I saw and fixed many. 

Femur fracture of the shaft means that the break occurred right in the middle of the bone. In almost all cases of adults, a broken femoral shaft means that they need surgery. Like a broken hip, a femur fracture of the shaft just doesn’t heal. Thankfully today we gave great technology with intramedullary rods, which can allow quick and stable fixation. In the past, people would have to be in cast and traction for months. That being said, a child under the age of 5 who fractures their femur will likely get casted.

Fractures of the femur at the end of the bone, near the knee joint also need surgery. Again, in adults they don’t heal well on their own and will require a plate and screws, followed by a period of non-weight bearing.

The treatment for femur fractures has come a long way over the decades. Technology allows for minimally invasive surgical fixation with great results. In Colorado Springs there are over 60 orthopedic surgeons, many of whom treat femur fractures. If you are not from Colorado Springs, then likely wherever you are there will be a surgeon who is well versed in treating femur fractures.

I hope I was able to answer your questions about how you fix a broken femur. If you still have any questions or want to schedule an in person or virtual consult, please feel free to contact me.

-Written by Dr. Daniel Paull

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