Skip to content

Information and Resources

Broken Leg

Font Size
A
A
A

Broken Leg Overview

Your leg contains 4 bones (the femur, the patella, the tibia, and the fibula) and bends at the hip, the knee, and the ankle. After an accident, these bones may break (fracture) into 2 or more pieces.

If a broken bone has been exposed to the outside, either by a cut over the fracture or by bone sticking out through the skin, it is called an open fracture. This used to be referred to as a compound fracture.

A break in the leg may involve any of these bones:

  • The femur is the bone in the thigh. It is the longest and strongest bone of the body. The upper part of the femur fits into the pelvis to form the hip joint. At this joint, it can move frontward, backward, sideways, and even rotate in and out. When people speak of a "broken hip," it is this upper part of the femur that is broken.
  • The lower end of the femur rests on top of the tibia, forming the knee joint. At the knee, the leg can swing frontward, backward, and even rotate slightly.

  • The kneecap (patella) glides back and forth in front of the knee joint. The kneecap suspends the ligaments from the thigh muscle and helps to add leverage for straightening out the leg.
  • The tibia is the shinbone and supports the body's weight. The fibula runs alongside the tibia below the knee. It is on the outside part of the leg and is smaller than the tibia.
  • The ankle is composed of the bottom ends of the tibia and fibula, the connecting foot bones, and the ligaments and tendons. Severe twisting injuries to the ankle can result in fractures of the tibia or fibula near or within the ankle joint.

Broken Leg Causes

It usually takes quite a bit of force to break the bones of the leg. Bones that have been weakened somehow can be broken more easily. If the amount of force put on a bone is greater than the amount it can handle, the bone will break.

  • A leg can be broken through trauma, where there has been a large force or injury (examples: car, motorcycle, or all-terrain vehicle accidents, skiing injuries, and falls from heights).
  • Injury can cause a bone to break if the bones have been weakened by disease such as cancer or other tumors, bone cysts, or osteoporosis.
  • Sometimes, repetitive overuse of the leg, such as the movements in distance running, can result in a stress fracture.
1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

Hot Topics

WebMD Video: Now Playing

Click here to wach video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Which sex is the worst about washing up? Why is it so important? We’ve got the dirty truth on how and when to wash your hands.

Click here to watch video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Popular Slideshows & Tools on WebMD

feet
Solutions for 19 types.
MS Overview
Recognizing symptoms.
pregnancy test and calendar
Helping you get pregnant.
man rubbing painful knee
A visual guide.
lone star tick
How to identify that bite.
woman standing behind curtains
How it affects you.
brain scan with soda
Tips to avoid complications.
row of colored highlighter pens
Tips for living better.
human lungs
Symptoms, causes, treatments.
woman dreaming
What Do Your Dreams Say About You?
two male hands
Test your knowledge.

Pollen counts, treatment tips, and more.

It's nothing to sneeze at.

Loading ...

Sending your email...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

Thanks!

Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

Women's Health Newsletter

Find out what women really need.