Internal Fixation of Fractured Femur Home Care

Your child has had an operation to repair a broken femur (thigh) bone. The femur is the largest bone in the body and is very important for weight bearing during walking, standing and running.

The orthopaedic doctor inserted a rod or several pins inside the bone to help hold the broken ends in place while they heal. School-age children who are still growing may have flexible rods. Older children may have rigid rods placed.

The rods or pins may need to be removed in the operating room when your orthopaedic doctor has decided that enough healing has taken place.

If your child had flexible pins placed to fix the bone, he or she will not be able to put weight on the leg for about two to three weeks. It is important to arrange sleeping and bathroom facilities within easy reach for your child. If your child's bedroom is on the second floor, it is recommended that the bed be moved to the first floor and a bedside commode be purchased for easy use.  

You will need to bring your child back to the orthopaedic doctor in order for him or her to see how well the bone is healing. We will take X-rays to see how healing is progressing.

When the doctor has decided that enough new bone has formed to put weight on the leg, your child will have a physical therapist work with him or her to find the best way to walk. Your child will need to use an assistive device at first, such as a walker or crutches.  

If a rigid rod is used to hold the fractured bone in place, your child may be able to walk with the aid of crutches or a walker and use enough weight on the injured leg to balance. A physical therapist will help your child with learning the best way to walk. Usually a wheelchair is needed for back-up, while some people manage well without one.

Each child and family circumstance is different. Everyone involved in your child's care will need you to help understand your child's particular needs.

  • Wheelchair
  • Walker or crutches
  • Bedside commode, if needed
  • Shower chair, if showering is OK with the orthopaedic doctor
  • Select the medical equipment company that is covered by your health insurance. Let your nurse know which company you have selected so he/she can arrange for you to get the equipment you need before you go home.
  • Make arrangements for easy access to bed and bathroom facilities at home.
  • Arrange for transportation to your home. Your nurse will help you with this if you do not have transportation.
  • A physical therapist will teach your child and you how to transfer from bed to wheelchair and commode. Parents will be taught safe handling / lifting techniques. When the orthopaedic doctor says it is OK to put weight on the leg, the physical therapist will teach your child to use crutches or a walker.
  • Your child will need to be sponge bathed unless the doctor tells you he/she may take a shower. If showers are permitted, a shower chair will be needed to prevent falling until the leg is healed. Your nurse will tell you which method your doctor wants you and your child to use.
  • If your child has to wear an immobilizer on his/her leg, keep it on at all times, except to open and cleanse the leg while lying in bed. Refasten the immobilizer and continue to wear it until the orthopaedic doctor has said it is OK to remove it.
  • Small bandages on the leg may be removed when the doctor says it is OK to do so. Usually the wound stitches will dissolve on their own.
  • Practice safe transportation by using an automobile safety restraint when transporting your child by an automobile. If your child has special needs for safety restraints, your nurse will teach you how to select and use the appropriate restraint.
  • Make a follow-up appointment with the orthopaedic surgeon as soon as possible after leaving the hospital. You'll need an appointment 10-14 days after surgery.
  • Your child will continue to experience pain for several days. Give the pain medication and muscle relaxants according to schedule. If the medications do not seem to be relieving your child's pain, call the orthopaedic doctor.
  • Do not leave your child unattended at home during his/her recovery period. Have a responsible adult in your home to assist the child.
  • Your child's education is very important. Arrangements for school should be done before leaving the hospital. Schools will need to be kept informed of the child's needs for homework to be brought to him/her or for tutoring in the home. The school will need to fax a form for the doctor to fill out requesting a home tutor, if that is part of the recommendations from the doctor. Knowing whether the child's school is wheelchair accessible, has elevators and the number of stairs the child must climb, will help determine if the child can return to school. Children can return to school in a wheelchair once they can use the restroom (safely unassisted) and navigate the buildings.
  • Do not leave the child unattended during the recovery period.
  • Limited mobility and taking medications may increase the risk of further accidental injury and reduce safety of the child.
  • Protect your child from injury, active playmates and siblings.
  • Know how to remove your child quickly from the house in case of a fire or other home disaster.
  • Those persons who will be helping your child should practice safe lifting techniques by using their legs during lifting.
  • Keep toys, throw rugs and excess furniture out of the room, so your child can move about without tripping, or bumping into objects.
  • Always use automobile safety restraints during transportation.
  • He/she has a fever over 101.5 degrees F (39 C).
  • You notice drainage from the operative site.
  • There is a foul odor from the operative site.
  • Your child experiences pain that is not controlled by the medicine your child has been given.
  • Your child has complaints of numbness, swelling, blanching, change in color, not being able to move toes or tingling in the legs or toes.

Femur Leg

Thigh bone.

Medical Equipment

Equipment that is needed to aid a recovering patient, such as a wheelchair. It may or may not be covered by the child's health insurance policy. Check with the insurance company to know for sure.

Rigid Rod

Rod inserted into the center of the bone to stabilize the fracture ends.

Nancy Nail

Flexible rods inserted into the center of the bone to stabilize the fracture ends.

Your child may experience pain in the broken leg for seven to 14 days after surgery. Taking the medication according to the schedule on the prescription will help your child remain more comfortable.

Your child may be able to transfer to a wheelchair if he/she has flexible rods, or walk with crutches or a walker if he/she has rigid rods. It may be easier the first week if he/she has taken pain medication first. Remember to give the medications as directed and plan activities to follow the scheduled medications.

Swelling in the foot, knee, and leg may continue for several weeks. Always elevate the leg when seated or lying in bed whenever there is swelling.

Your child may have a slight elevation in temperature for the first few days after the bone is broken. If the temperature goes to 101.5 degrees F (39 C) or higher, call your child's orthopaedic doctor.

  • Within two business days from leaving the hospital, call the Orthopaedic Clinic to arrange a follow-up appointment. The orthopaedic appointment desk number is 513-636-4454.
  • X-rays will be taken of the broken leg periodically to help the doctor determine how the bone is healing. Be prepared for the follow-up appointment to take extra time to allow for the X-rays.
  • Questions regarding any equipment you have should be addressed to the company from which it is rented.
  • Orthopaedic nurses or residents are always available to answer any questions you may have.

If you need to reach the orthopaedic nurse before 4 pm Monday through Friday, call 513-636-4567. After 4 pm and during weekends and holidays, call 513-636-4200 and ask for the orthopaedic resident on call.


Last Updated 08/2013