Broken Leg

Your leg contains 4 bones (the femur, the patella, the tibia, and the fibula) and bends at the hip, the knee, and the ankle. An accident can cause any of these bones to fracture (break) into two or more pieces. A broken bone that is exposed to the outside by a cut or if the bone sticks out of the skin is known as an open fracture which used to be referred as a compound fracture.

A broken leg can involve any of these bones:

• The femur, which is the thigh bone and is the longest and strongest bone in the body. The hip joint is formed when the upper part of the femur fits into the pelvis causing the leg to move forward, backward and sideways. The upper part of the femur is broken when people speak of a broken hip.

• The lower end of the femur rests on the tibia forming the knee joint causing the leg to swing forward, backward and even rotate.

• The patella (knee cap) glides back and forth in front of the knee joint.

• The tibia is the shinbone which supports the body’s weight. The fibula runs alongside this bone below the knee cap.

• The ankle is composed of the bottom ends of the tibia and fibula while connecting the bones in the foot, ligaments and tendons. A severe ankle twist can result in the fracture of the tibia or fibula near the ankle joint

It takes a lot of force to break a bone in the leg. The bone will break if the amount of force put on the bone is greater than it can handle.

A car, motorcycle accident and skiing injury are some of the accidents that can cause a leg to break. Injury can also cause a bone to break if it has been weakened by a disease such as cancer, bone cysts, or osteoporosis.

At times if a leg is overused as in distance running, it can cause a stress fracture.

A broken leg can cause severe pain, swelling and deformity which can be easily spotted in a X-RAY.

Holding the bone still will cause the pain to decrease while movement of a broken leg will increase the pain dramatically.

Deformity of the leg occurs in the following ways:

• Shortening: The broken leg appears shorter than the unaffected leg.

• Rotation: The leg below the break is twisted.

• Angulation: The leg bends at the break instead of at the joint.

Bones are immobilized for purposes by several treatment methods:

• When an operation is needed, pins, screws, and metal plates or wires are often used to hold together the broken ends of a bone.

• A plaster splint or cast often is used.

• For fractures in the middle part of the thigh or shinbone, a metal rod sometimes is placed down through the center of the bone.

To decrease your risk of injury from a car accident, wear a seat belt and ensure that a child is sitting in a car seat according to his or her age and body weight. Talk to your doctor about screening for diseases that may weaken bones and make proper use of protective equipment when participating in contact sports.