A leg fracture is a break or crack in the bone of the upper leg (femur) or a break in one or both of the bones in the lower leg (tibia or fibula).
Leg fractures can happen in many ways, such as from falls, direct hits, and overuse. Sometimes diseases, such as osteoporosis, or other problems can cause bones to get weak and break more easily.
When the leg is broken, you may hear a snapping or popping sound. Symptoms may include:
If there is an open wound over the site of a fracture, it’s especially important to get medical care right away.
Your healthcare provider will ask about your child’s symptoms and how the injury happened. Your provider will examine your child. Your child will have X-rays of the leg.
A child's bones are different from an adult’s bones in a couple ways. A child’s bones are more flexible and may crack rather than break. Or they may just buckle slightly. Also, the bones are still growing from areas near the ends of the bones called growth plates. A fracture in a growth plate may affect the growth of the bone but it may be hard to see with X-rays. Sometimes special tests are needed to diagnose fractures in the growth plate.
The treatment depends on the type of fracture. Sometimes surgery is needed to put the bones back into the correct position.
Your healthcare provider may put the leg in a splint or cast to keep it from moving.
If your child has an open wound over the site of the leg fracture, your child may need surgery. Your healthcare provider will cleanse the wound and cover it with a sterile dressing. Your child may need to have a tetanus shot and need to take antibiotics for several days.
Follow the full course of treatment your healthcare provider prescribes. Also:
Depending on the type of injury and how it was treated, your child may need to do special exercises to help the leg get stronger. Most of the time preteen children are so active that their legs get stronger and more flexible without physical therapy.
Keep all appointments for provider visits or tests. Call your healthcare provider if:
Most broken legs are caused by accidents that are not easy to prevent. However, you can help prevent leg injuries by: