Broken Femur (Thigh Bone) Symptoms & Causes

What are the different types of fractures?

One way to classify fractures in the femur is by the location of the break. A femur fracture can occur at several places in this long bone, including:

•   Proximal femur fracture (hip fracture): a break in the uppermost part of
    thigh bone next to the hip joint.
•   Femoral shaft fracture: a break in the bone shaft. This type of fracture is
    very serious and almost always requires surgical correction.
•   Supracondylar femur fracture: a break just above the knee joint. This type of fracture is an uncommon
    break, especially in children.
•   Distal femur fracture: a break in the top part of the knee joint.  A distal femur fracture can extend into
    the knee joint and disturb knee cartilage and growth plates. If the bone pierces through the skin (open fracture)
    there is a high chance that there will be damage to the muscles, tendons and ligaments.

Learn more about common fractures in children

What causes broken femurs?

A bone break happens when there’s more force applied to the bone than it can absorb. These breaks in bones can occur from falls, trauma or a direct blow.

Most childhood fractures result from:

•   Falling, as from stairs or jungle gym
•   Trauma (moderate to severe) that may happen in a car accident or while they’re participating in contact sports.

Femur fractures in infants (0-1 year old) are unusual, but can occur:

•   In babies born with a condition that causes weak bones, such as osteogenesis imperfecta
•   Following a very difficult delivery
•   In cases of child abuse

Certain risk factors may also increase a child’s chances of breaking a femur. 

The signs and symptoms of a broken femur in children include:

•   Pain or swelling in the thigh, possibly with bruising
•   Difficulty moving the leg
•   Inability to stand or walk
•   Deformity (abnormal shape) of the leg
•   In severe fractures, the bone may come through the skin and be visible.