SymptomsBy Mayo Clinic staff
A broken thighbone (femur) — the strongest bone in your body — usually is obvious because it takes so much force to break. But fractures of your shinbone (tibia) — the major weight-bearing bone in your lower leg — and the bone that runs alongside your tibia below your knee (fibula) may be more subtle.
Signs and symptoms of a broken leg may include:
- Severe pain, which may worsen with movement
- Obvious deformity or shortening of the affected leg
- Inability to walk
Toddlers or young children who break a leg may simply stop walking, even if they can't explain why. Unexplained crying may be the only other sign.
When to see a doctor
If you or your child has any signs or symptoms of a broken leg, see a doctor right away. Delays in diagnosis and treatment can result in problems later, including poor healing.
Seek emergency medical attention for any leg fracture from a high-impact trauma, such as a car or motorcycle accident. Fractures of the thighbone are severe, potentially life-threatening injuries that require emergency medical services to help protect the area from further damage and to transfer you safely to your local hospital.
- Fields KB. Stress fractures of the tibia and fibula. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed April 21, 2011.
- Thighbone (femur) fractures. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. http://www.orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00364. Accessed May 19, 2011.
- Shinbone fractures. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. http://www.orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00161. Accessed May 19, 2011.
- Fractures of the lower extremity: Shaft of the femur. In: Canale ST, et al. Campbell's Operative Orthopaedics. 11th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2008. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/132633798-5/831634018/1584/388.html#4-u1.0-B978-0-323-03329-9..50054-4--cesec111_2919. Accessed May 19, 2011.