How to know if you broke your leg

how to know if you broke your leg

Do I Have a Broken Bone?

Aug 10, Symptoms of a broken leg Because it takes so much force to break it, a femur fracture is usually obvious. Fractures to the other two bones in Author: Scott Frothingham. Signs and symptoms of a broken leg include: Pain (almost always present).

Medically reviewed by Drugs. Last updated on Jan 22, Whenever a bone breaks or cracks, the injury is called a fracture. The leg has three bones that can fracture the femur the thighbone and the tibia and fibula in the lower leg.

When a fracture involves the knobby end portions of bones that are part of the hip, knee and ankle joints, the fracture is more complicated.

This article describes only fractures of the straight shafts of the three long leg bones. The femur is very strong, so it takes a lot of force to fracture this bone in healthy people. The femur usually fractures during high-impact trauma, especially in automobile accidents, industrial accidents, falls from high places or gunshot wounds to the thigh.

If a low-impact bump or fall causes a femur to fracture, this may be a sign that the femur has been weakened by an illness, such as osteoporosis or cancer. Femur fractures have the potential to cause dangerous, sometimes life-threatening complications, such as significant bleeding inside the thigh, with blood loss of one quart or more.

A femur fracture also may cause blood clots to form within the large veins of the thigh. If these clots break free and travel through the bloodstream, they may eventually lodge in the lungs, creating a life-threatening condition called how to make chocolate chip cookies softer pulmonary embolism. Among children, femur fractures tend to happen because of a fall from a high place, such as a tree or the top of a slide.

In adults, these injuries usually are related to motor vehicle accidents either as a passenger or pedestrian or to on-the-job trauma.

The number of femur fractures caused by gunshot wounds has risen significantly in recent years. The tibia shinbone is the larger of the two bones of the lower leg.

Like femur fractures, tibia fractures often occur because of direct, high-impact trauma, especially during motor vehicle accidents. However, the tibia also can fracture from a low impact, even in healthy people, if the lower leg is bent or twisted at just the right angle. Of all the body's long bones, the tibia is the most likely to be fractured and the most likely to break through the skin when it fractures. This greatly increases the risk of bacterial contamination and infection at the fracture site.

It also may prevent normal healing. The sharp ends of a broken tibia can cut into nearby nerves and blood vessels and how long to cook a turkey with stuffing serious damage to soft tissues inside the lower leg. The fibula runs parallel to the tibia on the outside of the lower leg, but is smaller. The fibula usually fractures at the same time as the tibia. When only the fibula fractures, it is usually because of a direct blow to the side of the leg or an extreme sideways bend at the ankle or knee.

When only a fibula fractures, it usually does not cause long-term complications. Rarely, when the segments of broken bone are separated significantly by the injury, one of the nerves to the foot may be injured, causing foot drop, a condition in which the foot hangs limp at the ankle and drags on the ground during walking. Your doctor will examine your injured leg, checking for swelling, deformity, abrasions, bruising and tenderness.

To help determine whether a sharp edge of broken bone has damaged your leg's blood vessels or nerves, the doctor also will feel the pulses along the length of your injured leg, will assess how you respond to touch and will check for normal muscle strength in your leg and foot. If the physical examination suggests that your leg's arteries or large veins may have been injured, the doctor will order specialized tests called Doppler studies to measure the leg's blood flow more precisely.

Your leg will be X-rayed to confirm the location and severity of your fracture, and to check for less-obvious fractures and dislocations in nearby joints. A leg fracture may take two or more months to heal depending on whether surgery is necessary; whether there were multiple fragments; and whether there were complications, such as infection. The best way to avoid fractures is to prevent accidents. Supervise children and encourage safe play.

Drive carefully and always wear a seat belt. Prevention of osteoporosis can reduce the risk of related fractures. In most cases, doctors prefer to repair the fracture surgically. Surgical repair usually requires a shorter hospital stay and creates less disability than other treatment methods, such as wearing a plaster cast that covers the entire leg and hip.

To repair your fracture, the surgeon will join the segments of your broken femur using a special metal rod that is inserted into the bone's inner cavity. This rod will stabilize and reinforce the fracture site, allowing the femur to heal quickly and firmly. Once healing is complete, the metal rod may be removed or left in place.

After surgery, you will need to use crutches to avoid bearing weight on the leg, followed by a program of physical therapy. The goal of physical therapy is to restore normal strength in your leg muscles and normal range of motion in your leg joints. The entire process of healing and rehabilitation usually takes months. Treatment depends on the severity and location of how to remove a car stereo without the keys tibia fracture.

If you have an uncomplicated fracture that is not near your knee or ankle, the doctor may be able to treat your injury by immobilizing your leg in a cast. More severe fractures usually have to be repaired surgically with a metal rod, wires, or plates and screws. In general, a fibula fracture that occurs without a tibia fracture can be treated without surgery or hospitalization.

Your doctor probably will tell you to rest the injured leg, apply ice to the injured area, and take a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug NSAIDsuch as ibuprofen AdvilMotrin and othersto ease pain and relieve swelling. If bearing weight on your injured leg is very painful or if the fracture is near the ankle, your doctor may apply a cast and recommend that you use crutches temporarily. For any of these fractures, if your fracture breaks the skin, the condition is more serious: debridement removal of foreign material or damaged tissue from the woundsurgery and intravenous antibiotics are usually recommended.

If you have not had a tetanus shot within the past 10 years, a tetanus vaccination will also be recommended. Once your fracture has healed enough, your doctor will prescribe a program of physical therapy to restore full strength and function in your injured leg.

Seek emergency help if you have significant lasting pain and suspect you may have a leg fracture after a fall, a motor vehicle accident or other trauma involving the leg.

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances. Leg Fracture Medically reviewed by Drugs. Health Guide What is a Leg Fracture? Femur Fractures The femur is very strong, so it takes a lot of force to fracture this bone in healthy people.

Tibia Fractures The tibia shinbone is the larger of the two bones of the lower leg. Fibula Fractures The fibula runs parallel to the tibia on the outside of the lower leg, but is smaller. Symptoms If you have fractured the shaft of your femur, your symptoms may include: Pain, swelling, tenderness and bruising in your thigh Inability to bear weight on your injured leg Inability to move your hip or knee on the affected side Visible portions of the fractured bone, if the fracture causes a break in the skin If you have fractured the shaft how to know if you broke your leg your tibia, or both your tibia and fibula, you may see: Pain, swelling, tenderness and bruising in your lower leg Deformity in the shape of your lower leg An abnormal alignment or positioning of your foot on the affected side Visible portions of the fractured bone, if the fracture causes a break in the skin A fibula fracture that occurs alone usually causes: Localized swelling and tenderness at the fracture site, along the outside of the lower leg Pain at the outside of the lower leg that becomes worse when you walk Diagnosis Your doctor will examine your injured leg, checking for swelling, deformity, abrasions, bruising and tenderness.

Expected Duration A leg fracture may take two or more months to heal depending on whether surgery is necessary; whether there were multiple fragments; and whether there were complications, such as infection. Prevention The best way to avoid fractures is to prevent accidents. Treatment Femur Fractures In most cases, doctors prefer to repair the fracture surgically.

Tibia Fractures Treatment depends on the severity and location of your tibia fracture. Fibula Fractures In general, a fibula fracture that occurs without a tibia fracture can be treated without surgery or hospitalization. When To Call a Professional Seek emergency help if you have significant lasting pain and suspect you may have a leg fracture after a fall, a motor vehicle accident or other trauma involving the leg.

Prognosis The outlook for leg fractures varies, depending on the type of fracture and its severity: Femur fractures what firewall should i use Almost all femur fractures heal well, and most patients are able to return to their normal activities after about 6 months of treatment and rehabilitation.

Tibia fractures Tibia shaft fractures also have a good prognosis. Fractures that are closer to the knee tend to heal faster than those near the ankle. Fractures in children tend to heal faster than those in adults. Fibula fractures Almost all fractures of the fibula shaft heal very well without complications. Subscribe to our newsletters. FDA Safety Alerts. Daily MedNews. Monthly Newsletter.

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What is a Leg Fracture?

Nov 13, Out of all four of these signs, deformity is arguably the best indicator of a fracture. 3 ? When the arm or leg bends in places it's not supposed to bend, it's a good bet there's a bone out of place. Likewise, if the bone is sticking out through the skin, we can put money on the fact that it's brokenor maybe even dislocated.

A broken leg leg fracture is a break or crack in one of the bones in your leg. Common causes include falls, motor vehicle accidents and sports injuries. Treatment of a broken leg depends on the location and severity of the injury. A severely broken leg may require surgery to implant devices into the broken bone to maintain proper alignment during healing. Other injuries may be treated with a cast or splint.

In all cases, prompt diagnosis and treatment of a broken leg is critical to complete healing. A broken thighbone femur the strongest bone in your body usually is obvious because it takes so much force to break. But fractures of your shinbone tibia the major weight-bearing bone in your lower leg and the bone that runs alongside your tibia below your knee fibula may be more subtle. Toddlers or young children who break a leg may simply stop walking, even if they can't explain why.

Unexplained crying may be a symptom of a toddler who has a fracture. If you or your child has any signs or symptoms of a broken leg, see a doctor right away. Delays in diagnosis and treatment can result in problems later, including poor healing. Seek emergency medical attention for any leg fracture from a high-impact trauma, such as a car or motorcycle accident.

Fractures of the thighbone are severe, potentially life-threatening injuries that require emergency medical services to help protect the area from further damage and to transfer you safely to your local hospital. Stress fractures are often the result of repetitive stress to the leg bones from physical activities, such as:. Contact sports, such as hockey and football, also may pose a risk of direct blows to the leg, which can result in a fracture. Broken leg care at Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic does not endorse companies or products.

Advertising revenue supports our not-for-profit mission. Don't delay your care at Mayo Clinic Schedule your appointment now for safe in-person care. This content does not have an English version. This content does not have an Arabic version. Overview A broken leg leg fracture is a break or crack in one of the bones in your leg. Request an Appointment at Mayo Clinic. Share on: Facebook Twitter. Show references Fields KB. Overview of tibial fractures in adults. Accessed March 10, Canale ST, et al.

Campbell's Operative Orthopaedics. Philadelphia, Pa. Asplund CH, et al. Midshaft femur fractures in adults. Fields KB. Stress fractures of the tibia and fibula.

Tintinalli JE, et al. New York, N. Vincent JL, et al. Textbook of Critical Care. Mathison DJ, et al. General principles of fracture management: Fracture patterns and description in children. Marx JA, et al. Derby R, et al. General principles of acute fracture management. Accessed March 11, Tibia shinbone shaft fractures. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Related External fixation.

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