Discharge Instructions for Internal Fixation of a Fractured Femur

You had a procedure called internal fixation of a fractured femur (thighbone). During the procedure, a rod, plates and screws, or several pins were inserted inside the bone to hold the broken ends of bone in place while they heal. Once the bone has healed, the rod, plate and screws, or pins may need to be surgically removed. A broken femur is a serious injury that takes about 3 to 6 months to heal. Here are instructions to help you care for your leg when you are at home.


  • Arrange your household to keep the items you need within reach.

  • Remove electrical cords, throw rugs, and anything else that may cause you to fall.

  • Use nonslip bath mats, grab bars, an elevated toilet seat, and a shower chair in your bathroom.

  • Follow the weight-bearing instructions given by your healthcare provider. He or she will tell you how much weight you are—or are not—allowed to put on your leg.

  • Use a cane, crutches, a walker, or handrails until your balance, flexibility, and strength improve. And remember to ask for help from others when you need it.

  • Free up your hands so that you can use them to keep balance. Use a fanny pack, apron, or pockets to carry things.

  • Don’t sit or lie in the same position for long periods, or with your legs crossed. Carefully reposition yourself every 30 to 60 minutes.

  • Don’t drive until your healthcare provider says it’s OK. And never drive while taking opioid pain medicine.

Home care

  • Take your pain medicine exactly as directed.

  • Take special care when showering. Follow your healthcare provider’s instructions closely. Do the following, as instructed:

    • If you wear a leg brace or immobilizer, cover it with plastic to keep it dry while you shower.

    • If you do not wear a leg brace or immobilizer, carefully wash your incision with soap and water. Gently pat it dry. Don’t rub the incision, or apply creams or lotions to it. To avoid falling while showering, sit on a shower stool. 

  • Tell all of your healthcare providers—including your dentist—that you have a rod, plate and screws, or pin in your leg. You may need to take antibiotics before dental work and other medical procedures to reduce the risk of infection.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your healthcare provider, or as advised. 

Call 911

Call 911 right away if you have any of the following:

  • Chest pain

  • Shortness of breath

When to call your healthcare provider

Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of these:

  • Numbness or tingling in your leg or toes

  • Cool, pale, red- or blue-colored leg or toes

  • Fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, or as directed by your healthcare provider

  • Shaking chills

  • Increased pain

  • Swelling of the fracture site or calf

  • Drainage with foul odor coming from the dressing

  • A rash