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Physical Therapy for a Fractured Femur – Information, Exercises, and More

Have you experienced a fractured femur?

This injury is serious, and it can take a long time to heal. You may be dealing with extreme pain, not only in your upper leg or hips, but also maybe in your knee, thigh, buttocks, groin, or back.

Physical therapy can speed up the healing process. It can help you get back into the shape you desire, to help move into a pain free life. 

Continue reading to learn more about this injury, how to get yourself back to the shape you were in before the fracture, and just how physical therapy can help.

physical therapy for fractured femur


What Is a Fractured Femur?

It takes a good amount of pressure to fracture a femur because it is the largest and strongest bone in the human body. It is the single bone that runs from your knee to your hip. We can stand and walk because our femur, or thighbone, supports our body weight. 

The femur can get fractured in three different areas:

  • Lower end: near the knee
  • Main shaft of the bone: in the middle
  • Head/neck of the bone: near the pelvis and hip

There are several types of fracture patterns for fractured femurs. These patterns illustrate the bone movement of the fracture:

  • Transverse: a horizontal line across the femoral shaft
  • Spiral: caused by a twisting motion
  • Open: when a bone is sticking out
  • Oblique: an angled line across the shaft
  • Comminuted: when the bone is broken in three or more places

Fracturing your femur is a severe and painful injury that requires immediate medical attention. Since this bone can take months to heal, doing physical therapy exercises for femur fractures is critical for regaining mobility and strength. 

What Causes Fractured Femurs?

There are various ways to break a femur

Did you fracture your femur…

  • In a car crash?
  • From a gunshot?  
  • Taking part in high-speed sports, such as skiing, snowmobiling, wakeboarding, or water skiing?

… or even just from a fall? 

 In a study of 450 patients with femoral head fractures, 84.3% were automobile accident victims. 

People over 65 have a higher chance of breaking bones, like the femur, when they fall from a standing position. 


Fractured Femur Symptoms

Doctors categorize femur fractures depending on:

  • The location of the fracture
  • How the bone broke
    • Lengthwise
    • Crosswise
    • In the middle
  • If the muscle or skin around the bone is torn

One symptom that is usually consistent is the onset of severe, immediate pain from this injury.

 Your doctor will assess any:

  • Damaged skin
  • Protruding bones
  • Bruises
  • Deformities such as a twisting, an abnormal angle, or the leg appearing shorter than the other

Complications, such as infection, blood clots, or pneumonia can occur as a result of a fractured femur. Keep an eye out for swelling in the leg or groin or red and tender areas to the touch.

Treatment for a Fractured Femur

When the fractures are short, simple cracks, surgery is not usually required. 

Young children can sometimes be treated with only a cast as their bones heal differently.

On the other hand, surgery is needed for a fractured femur when the bone is:

  • Completely broken through
  • Displaced
  • Crushed

The most common femur fracture is to the femoral shaft. Femoral neck fractures are the most common hip fractures and often happen to older adults related to osteoporosis. A fracture that happens right above the knee joint is a distal femur fracture.

X-rays and CT scans provide the information a doctor needs to determine the severity of the situation. 

Most operations are done within 24 to 48 hours of the accident. Antibiotics are given to reduce the risk of infection with this injury. 

Usually, you need an open reduction and internal fixation to put your bones back into place so they can heal. In the first part of the surgery, the bone is pieced back together into its correct position, and then the internal fixation reconnects everything. 

How are the pieces of your femur bone reconnected during an internal fixation? 

This procedure involves using:

  • Special screws
  • Plates
  • Rods
  • Wires
  • Nails

Sometimes a large metal rod needs to be inserted into the bone.

Recovery time depends on the severity of the injury but can take from three to twelve months, with the average being four to six months. However, patients may start walking with a physical therapist’s help in the first couple of days after surgery.

Fractured Femur Physical Therapy – Will PT Help?

When you break a bone, you usually end up with a loss of muscle strength. This loss of strength makes physical therapy for a femur fracture a must. 

In Motion O.C. is rated #1 on Yelp! Our physical therapists assist patients dealing with femur fractures by providing:

  • Physical Therapy
  • Aquatic Therapy
  • Fitness
  • Massage services

Request a free consultation today and be on your way to becoming pain-free!

Physical therapists are movement experts who help you improve your quality of life by getting you up and running once again.

Physical therapists assist you by helping you:

  • Reduce pain
  • Strengthen your muscles
  • Improve the movement of your body
  • Increase your balance
  • Relearn how to walk
  • Return to the activity level you experienced before the injury


Best Exercises for a Fractured Femur

When you work with In Motion O.C. Our therapists can help you learn about what exercises to do, how you should perform them, and how often they should be done in order to get you back to good health. 

Let’s review some essential movements your physical therapist may recommend for a fractured femur.

Straight Leg Raise

Straight leg raises help to strengthen your: 

  • Quadricep muscle to stabilize the knee; and 
  • Hip flexors from lifting your leg

How to do the exercise:

  1. Laying flat on the ground, bend the knee of your leg that is not injured at a 90-degree angle and keep that foot flat on the floor.
  2. Tighten your quad muscle on the leg that is laying out straight on the ground.
  3. Lift your straight leg off the ground 6 inches while breathing in; hold the straight leg for three seconds and then lower it back down.


Performing bridges allows your hip joint to move into extension. This exercise also helps strengthen your glutes, stabilizing your legs and improving balance.

How to do the exercise:

  1. Lie on your back.
  2. Bend your knees and put your feet flat on the ground.
  3. Lift your hips while squeezing your glutes. Be sure to keep your back flat. 
  4. Hold the raised position for three seconds and then lower back down to the ground.

Standing Hip Extensions

Standing hip extensions help strengthen your glutes.

To do this exercise:

  1. Stand in front of a chair, wall, table, or counter for support.
  2. Put your weight on your uninjured weight while keeping your injured leg straight.
  3. Move your injured leg back behind you. Keep it straight, and do not arch your back. 
  4. Hold the position for a second, then move your leg back to the starting position.. 

How In Motion O.C. Can Help With a Fractured Femur

Physical therapists at In Motion O.C. have helped numerous patients going through the same thing you are experiencing. Check out video testimonials from satisfied clients that prove how knowledgeable, patient, and compassionate our team members are.  

Depending on your specific injury, In Motion O.C. provides thorough treatment plans to get you up and running as quickly as possible. 

Are you ready to:

  • Improve your mobility?
  • Restore function?
  • Reduce or manage pain?
  • Prevent additional damage?

Contact In Motion O.C. to see for yourself why we are rated the #1 Physical Therapist in the country on Yelp and schedule your appointment today. 


The content in this blog should not be used in place of direct medical advice/treatment and is solely for informational purposes.

In Motion O.C.