Broken Leg : Prevention, Symptoms, And Treatment418
A fractured leg (leg fracture) happens when one of the bones in your leg breaks or cracks. Falls, traffic accidents, and sports injuries are frequent causes.
The location and seriousness of the injury determine the course of treatment for a fractured leg. Metal pins and plates may be needed to hold the pieces of a severely broken leg together. A cast or splint can be used to treat less serious breaks. In every situation, prompt diagnosis and treatment are essential to full recovery.
A broken leg may result from:
Falls. One or both of the lower leg bones can fracture after a simple fall. The thighbone can normally only be broken by a significantly higher impact.
accidents with vehicles. In a car accident, all three leg bones may be broken. When your knees are pressed up against the dashboard after an accident or when the car's damage strikes your legs, fractures can happen.
A sports injury. In contact sports, pushing your leg over its natural limits might result in a broken leg. A fall or a direct blow, such as one from a hockey stick or the body of a rival, can also cause injury.
Mistreatment of children. Child abuse may result in a broken limb in a youngster, especially if it happens before the child is even aware of what happened.
Overuse. Tiny cracks called stress fractures can form in the shinbone and other weight-bearing bones of the body. Stress fractures are typically brought on by overuse or repetitive force, such as long-distance jogging. However, they can happen when a bone that has been weakened by a condition like osteoporosis is used regularly.
What symptoms indicate a fractured leg?
Any limb fracture caused by a high-impact trauma, such as a vehicle or motorbike collision, should be treated immediately by a medical professional. Seek immediate medical attention if you or your child exhibits any signs or symptoms of a fractured leg. Delays in diagnosis and treatment may lead to issues down the road, such as poor healing.
Thighbone fractures are serious. Sometimes fatal injuries need immediate medical attention to help prevent further damage and ensure a safe transfer to a nearby hospital.
Stress fractures are frequently the result of physical activity that repeatedly place stress on the bones of the legs, such as:
- Dancing the ballet
Direct strikes to the leg, which can cause a fracture, can also be risky in contact sports like football and hockey.
Sports-related stress fractures are more frequent in those who have:
- Lower bone density (osteoporosis)
- Arthritis rheumatoid
The strongest bone in the body is the thighbone or femur. As the thighbone requires such a great deal of effort to break, it is usually easy to tell when it is broken. However, a fracture of the tibia or the fibula, the bone that runs parallel to the tibia, may not be as visible.
Some warning signs and symptoms of a broken leg are:
- Extreme discomfort that could get worse if you move
- Clearly deformed or shorter than normal in the affected leg
- Being unable to walk
- Even if they can not explain it, toddlers or young children who break a leg may begin limping or stop moving altogether.
Sometimes a fractured limb cannot be avoided. This fundamental advice could lower your risk:
Boost bone vigour. Foods high in calcium, such as milk, yoghurt, and cheese, can aid in the development of strong bones. Additionally, a calcium or vitamin D supplement may strengthen bones. If you want to know if these supplements are right for you, go to your doctor.
Put on appropriate running shoes. Select the right footwear for your preferred sports or activities. And always get new running sneakers. Throw away shoes as soon as the tread or heel begins to deteriorate or if the wear is uneven.
Cross-train. Stress fractures can be avoided by alternating activities. Alternate between cycling and running. Alternate your running direction when using a slanted indoor track to lessen the strain on your joints.
Depending on the type and location of the break, many treatments are available for fractured legs. While other breaks would require surgery for the best recovery, stress fractures might merely need rest and immobilisation. The following categories are used to categorise fractures:
Open fracture. In this kind of fracture, the shattered bone pierces the skin. To reduce the risk of infection, this dangerous condition has to be treated right away.
Closed fracture. The skin on the surrounding area is unharmed in closed fractures.
Complete fracture. By this definition, the bone is broken but not divided into two pieces.
Incomplete fracture. The bone has shattered into two or more pieces in complete fractures.
Displaced fracture. The bone pieces in this kind of fracture are not aligned on either side of the break. Surgery may be necessary to properly realign the bones after a displaced fracture.
Greenstick fracture. Similar to when you try to break a green stick of wood, the bone in this sort of fracture splits but does not completely break through. As a child's bones are weaker and more malleable than an adult's, greenstick fractures are more common in children.
Acetaminophen (Tylenol, among others) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, among others), or a combination of the two, are examples of painkillers that help lessen discomfort and inflammation. Your doctor might recommend stronger painkillers if you are in excruciating pain.
To relieve stiffness and regain motion in the damaged leg, you will probably need rehabilitation exercises or physical therapy when your cast or splint is removed. You might even have stiffness and weakening muscles in the parts of your leg that are not damaged since you have not moved your leg in a while. Although rehabilitation might be helpful, full recovery from severe injuries could take many months or even longer.
Procedures such as surgery
Most broken bones mend when placed in a cast or splint for immobilisation. You might require surgery for doctors to implant plates, rods, or screws to keep the bones in the right position while they mend. Surgery of this kind is more common in those who have:
- Many fractures
- A fracture that is misplaced or unstable
- Bone pieces that are loose and could get into a joint
- Injury to the encircling ligaments
- Injuries that penetrate a joint
- A fracture brought on by a collision with something heavy
- A metal frame outside the leg that is pinned to the bone is used to repair some injuries. This stabilising device helps with the healing process and is often taken out after six to eight weeks. The area around the surgical pins is susceptible to infection.
Complications of Broken Leg
When a leg is shattered, complications can arise like:
Ankle or knee pain. Your knee or ankle may hurt if you have a broken bone in your leg.
Infected bones (osteomyelitis). An open fracture occurs when a shattered bone pierces the skin and leaves a wound. If you have an open fracture, bacteria that might lead to infection may get onto the bone.
Poor healing. A serious leg fracture could not recover fully or fast. Due to decreased blood flow to the tibia, this is especially typical in open fractures of the bone.
Damage to blood vessels or nerves. Leg fractures can harm adjacent blood vessels and nerves. If you experience any numbness, pale skin, or circulation issues, get emergency medical attention.
Compartment Syndrome. The muscles close to the shattered bone are painful, swollen, and occasionally disabled as a result of this disorder. A motorbike or automobile collision, which causes high-impact injuries, is more likely to cause this uncommon consequence.
Arthritis. Osteoarthritis can develop years later as a result of poor bone alignment and fractures that extend into the joint. Visit your doctor for an assessment if your leg continues to suffer after a break.
Disparate leg lengths. A child's long bones develop from the ends of the bones, from softer regions known as growth plates. A limb may eventually grow shorter or longer than the opposing limb if a fracture penetrates through the growth plate.
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Page last reviewed: Mar 10, 2023
Next review due: Mar 10, 2025