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WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
A leg fracture is a break in any of the 3 long bones of your leg. The femur is the largest bone and goes from your hip to your knee. The fibula and tibia are the 2 bones in your lower leg that go from your knee to your ankle.
- Pain medicine: You may be given medicine to take away or decrease pain. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you take your medicine.
- Antibiotics: This medicine is given to help treat or prevent an infection caused by bacteria.
- Take your medicine as directed. Call your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
Follow up with your primary healthcare provider or bone specialist as directed:
You may need to return to have your cast, splint, or stitches removed. You may need an x-ray of your leg to check how well the bone has healed. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
Carefully wash the wound with soap and water. Dry the area and put on new, clean bandages as directed. Change your bandages when they get wet or dirty.
Bathing with a cast or splint:
If you have no open wounds, you may be able to take a bath or shower 2 days after surgery. If you have a cast or splint, it is important not to get it wet. Before bathing, cover the cast or splint with a plastic bag. Tape the bag to your skin above the cast or splint to seal out the water. Keep your leg out of the water in case the bag leaks. Ask when it is okay to take a bath or shower.
Cast or splint care:
- Check the skin around the cast or splint every day.
- Do not push down or lean on any part of the cast or splint because it may break.
- Do not use a sharp or pointed object to scratch your skin under the cast or splint.
- Rest: You may need to rest your leg and avoid activities that cause pain. For stress fractures, you will need to avoid the activity that caused the fracture until it heals. Ask when you can return to your normal activities such as work and sports.
- Ice: Ice helps decrease swelling and pain. Ice may also help prevent tissue damage. Use an ice pack or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover it with a towel, and place it on your leg for 15 to 20 minutes every hour as directed.
- Elevation: You may use pillows to keep your leg at or above the level of your heart. Elevation helps decrease swelling and pain, and improves blood flow.
A physical therapist will help you with exercises to improve the movement of your leg. The exercises can also help make your leg bones and muscles stronger. If you are not allowed to stand up, your therapist may show you how to exercise your legs in bed.
Crutches or a walker:
You may need to use crutches or a walker to help you walk while your leg heals. It is important to use your crutches or walker correctly. Ask for more information about using these devices correctly.
Contact your primary healthcare provider or bone specialist if:
- You have a fever.
- You have new sores around your brace, cast, or splint.
- You have new or worsening trouble moving your leg.
- You notice a foul smell coming from under your cast.
- You have a new skin rash.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
Seek care immediately or call 911 if:
- Your cast cracks or is damaged.
- The pain in your injured leg gets worse even after you rest and take medicine.
- The skin or toes of your injured leg become swollen, cold, or blue.
- You have drainage from your surgery wounds or open skin areas.
- Blood soaks through your bandage.
- You have no feeling in your leg below your injury.
- Your surgery wounds or open skin areas become red, warm, and swollen.
- Your leg feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.
- You suddenly feel lightheaded and short of breath.
- You have chest pain when you take a deep breath or cough. You may cough up blood.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.