Patient Education

To help you understand and navigate through your orthopedic health decisions, we have created a patient education section. Please select from one of the categories below to learn more about your condition or procedure.
Femur Shaft Fractures (Broken Thighbone)

A femur shaft fracture is a break along the length of the femur, or thighbone, which is the longest and strongest bone in the body. This type of fracture typically occurs due to high-impact trauma and is considered a serious injury that often requires surgical intervention.

Types of Femur Shaft Fractures

  • Transverse fracture: A horizontal break across the femur.
  • Oblique fracture: An angled break across the shaft.
  • Spiral fracture: A fracture where the bone has been twisted apart.
  • Comminuted fracture: The bone is broken into several pieces.
  • Open (compound) fracture: The bone breaks through the skin, posing a higher risk of infection.

Common Symptoms

  • Severe pain in the thigh
  • Inability to bear weight on the affected leg
  • Swelling, bruising, and tenderness around the fracture site
  • Visible deformity or shortening of the leg
  • Inability to move the hip or knee

Cause & Anatomy

  • High-impact trauma: Such as car accidents, falls from a significant height, or sports injuries.
  • Low-impact trauma: In cases where the bone is weakened by conditions like osteoporosis or cancer.


  • Femur: The thighbone, extending from the hip to the knee, comprising the femoral head, neck, shaft, and distal end.
  • Femoral shaft: The long, straight part of the femur between the proximal and distal ends.
  • Muscles: Surrounding the femur include the quadriceps, hamstrings, and adductors, which can be affected by a fracture.


  • Physical examination: Assessment of pain, swelling, deformity, and range of motion.
  • Imaging tests: X-rays to confirm the fracture and its type, location, and severity. CT scans or MRIs may be used for a more detailed view, especially if there are concerns about associated injuries.


  • Safety measures: Using seat belts, wearing protective gear during sports, and ensuring a safe environment to prevent falls.
  • Bone health: Maintaining strong bones through a healthy diet rich in calcium and vitamin D, and regular weight-bearing exercise.

Non-Surgical Treatment

  • Traction: Used temporarily to align the bone before surgery or in rare cases for non-surgical management.


  • Intramedullary nailing: A metal rod is inserted into the marrow canal of the femur to hold the bone fragments together.
  • Plates and screws: Metal plates and screws are used to hold the bone fragments in place, usually when intramedullary nailing is not suitable.
  • External fixation: Metal pins or screws are placed into the bone above and below the fracture and connected to a metal bar outside the skin.


  • Physical therapy: Essential for restoring strength, flexibility, and range of motion. Typically begins soon after surgery.
  • Weight-bearing status: Gradually increased based on the healing progress and doctor’s advice.
  • Pain management: Medications to control pain and reduce inflammation.

Recovery Timeline

  • Initial healing: Typically takes 6 to 12 weeks for the bone to start uniting.
  • Full recovery: May take several months to a year, depending on the severity of the fracture and adherence to rehabilitation.


  • Infection: Especially in cases of open fractures or surgical treatment.
  • Non-union or delayed union: The bone fails to heal properly or takes longer than usual.
  • Malunion: The bone heals in an incorrect position.
  • Fat embolism: Fat droplets from the marrow can enter the bloodstream and cause serious complications.
  • Nerve or blood vessel damage: Resulting from the initial trauma or surgery.


How long does it take to walk normally after a femur fracture?
Walking with assistance (like crutches) may begin a few weeks after surgery, but walking normally can take several months, depending on the individual’s healing and rehabilitation progress.

Will I have a permanent limp after a femur fracture?
Most people recover fully and regain normal gait, but this depends on the severity of the fracture, the success of the surgery, and the effectiveness of rehabilitation.

Are there any long-term effects of a femur fracture?
Some people may experience lingering stiffness, pain, or reduced function, especially if complications arise during healing.

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