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Leg fractures occur in one or more of the three long bones in the legs: the thighbone (femur), the shinbone (tibia), and the smaller bone in the lower leg (fibula).
The thighbone is the largest bone in the leg. Fractures may occur in the long middle part (shaft). The top of thighbone forms part of the hip joint. Thus, fractures in this area are considered hip fractures (see Hip Fractures).
Fractures of the shaft usually result from great force because this bone is so strong. These fractures are usually caused by falls from a height, high-speed car crashes, or collision of a car with a pedestrian.
A splint or special device to provide traction is applied to immobilize the leg, usually before the person is transported to the hospital. Then, as soon as possible, surgery is done to align the broken pieces and hold them in place with metal rods or plates. This procedure is called open reduction and internal fixation (ORIF—see Fractures, Dislocations, and Sprains:Surgery). Soon after surgery, most people begin to walk with crutches.
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