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ORIF of a Leg Fracture


Open reduction and internal fixation (ORIF) is surgery to fix a fractured (broken) bone in your leg. Orthopedic hardware (screws or plates) is used to hold the broken bone together while it heals.

Internal Fixation Device



  • Pain medicine: You may be given a prescription medicine to decrease pain. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you take this medicine.
  • Bowel movement softeners: This medicine helps soften your bowel movement to prevent constipation. It will also help prevent straining when you have a bowel movement.
  • Blood thinners: Blood thinners are medicines that help prevent blood clots from forming. Clots can cause strokes, heart attacks, and be life-threatening. Blood thinners make it more likely for you to bleed or bruise. Do the following if you are taking a blood thinner:
    • Watch for bleeding from your gums or nose. Watch for blood in your urine and bowel movements. Use a soft washcloth on your skin and a soft toothbrush on your teeth. If you shave, use an electric shaver.
    • Be aware of what medicines you take. Many medicines cannot be used when you take medicine to thin your blood. Tell your dentist and other healthcare providers that you take blood-thinning medicine. Wear or carry medical alert information that says you take this medicine.
    • Take this medicine exactly as your healthcare provider tells you. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you forget to take the medicine or if you take too much. You may need to have regular blood tests while on this medicine.
    • Talk to your healthcare provider about your diet. This medicine works best when you eat about the same amount of vitamin K every day. Vitamin K is found in green leafy vegetables and other foods, such as cooked peas and kiwifruit.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her 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 healthcare provider as directed:

You may need to return to have your wound checked and staples or stitches removed. You may also need to have blood tests. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.


  • Rest: Rest when you feel it is needed. Slowly start to do more each day. Return to your daily activities as directed.
  • Ask about activity: Do not lift heavy objects. Ask when you can return to your daily activities and go back to work.
  • Use support devices: You may need to use crutches, a cane, or a walker. It is important to use your crutches correctly. Ask your healthcare provider for more information about how to use crutches.
  • Ask when you can bathe: When you are allowed to bathe, cover your cast with 2 plastic bags. Tape the bags to your skin above the cast. Keep the cast out of the water so it does not get wet.
  • Elevate your leg: Raise your leg above the level of your heart as often as you can. This will help decrease swelling and pain. Prop your leg on pillows or blankets to keep it elevated comfortably.
  • Ice your leg: 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.
  • Eat high-fiber foods: Eat a variety of high-fiber foods to prevent constipation. High-fiber foods include cooked beans, fruits, vegetables, and some cereals. Ask your healthcare provider how much fiber you should have.

Physical therapy:

A physical therapist teaches you exercises to help improve movement and strength, and to decrease pain.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • Your cast gets wet or begins to smell.
  • Your bandage or cast feels tighter and you think your toes are more swollen.
  • Your cast feels loose.
  • You have a lot of itching under your cast.
  • You have a fever.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Seek care immediately or call 911 if:

  • Blood soaks through your bandage.
  • Your cast breaks.
  • Your toes look pale or blue, feel numb, or tingle.
  • 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.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.