Fractures of the Femur
The femur is the bone in your thigh. It extends from your hip joint down to your knee joint.
It is one of the largest and strongest bones in your body, and because of this, it usually takes a very high energy force or injury to cause the femur to break (fracture).
If your bone is weak, for example in osteoporosis, your femur can fracture with a relatively minor fall.
Fractures of the femur are categorised by the exact location of the break (fracture):
- Proximal femoral fractures. Proximal femur fractures, also called hip fractures, involve the upper-most portion of the thigh bone, just adjacent to the hip joint. These fractures are further subdivided into different types of hip fractures that have a bearing on how a surgeon may choose to fix the fracture.
- Shaft fractures. A femoral shaft fracture is a severe injury that generally occurs in high-speed motor car accidents or falls from a height. The treatment is almost always with surgery. The most common procedure is to insert a metal rod down the center of the thigh bone (an intramedullary rod).
- Distal femoral fractures. Also called a 'supracondylar' femur fracture, is an injury to the thigh bone just above the knee joint. These fractures can involve the cartilage surface of the knee joint, which put you at risk of developing knee arthritis later in life.
This section focuses on both shaft fractures and distal femoral fractures. For more information on proximal femoral fractures, see the section on hip fractures.