Nerve Entrapment Following a Femur Fracture
Nerve entrapment can be a serious problem following a femur fracture. There are numerous nerves that run through the hip, thigh, knee, and lower leg. These nerves are responsible for transmitting motor signals to the lower limbs. The nerves also transmit information regarding pain, pressure, and temperature back to the brain. If one or more of these nerves become entrapped, this can lead to serious problems.
Examples of nerves that might be damaged by a femur fracture include the femoral nerve, the sciatic nerve, and the peroneal nerve. Damage to these nerves can present in different ways; however, it is important for everyone to understand the basics of nerve entrapment. If this complication develops, time is of the essence.
How Does Nerve Entrapment Develop?
The femur is one of the largest bones in the body. Numerous nerves and blood vessels follow the shaft of the femur through the lower leg. When a femur fracture occurs, large bone fragments can become displaced from their normal anatomic location. When these fragments move, they can trap nerves and blood vessels in between. If the thigh starts to swell in response to the femur fracture, this can compress the nerves to an even greater degree. As a result, nerve entrapment develops.
What are the Signs and Symptoms?
If one or more of the nerves has become trapped following a femur fracture, there are several common symptoms that will develop. At first, patients might feel patches of numbness and tingling in certain parts of their thigh and lower leg. People might also have trouble moving their lower leg or toes. Eventually, this numbness may progress to severe pain and discomfort. Individuals with nerve entrapment might have difficulty moving their leg at all.
The exact location of the numbness and tingling will depend on the nerve that is entrapped. Some people might feel numbness on the inside of their thigh. In other cases, it might present on the outside of their thigh. Therefore, it is important for everyone to note the exact nature of their symptoms. This will help the doctor figure out which nerve is affected.
Diagnosis of Nerve Entrapment
If an individual presents with signs and symptoms consistent with nerve entrapment, the doctor is going to start with a physical exam. This is important for evaluating the nature of the motor and sensory deficits. This might include testing muscle strength in addition to evaluating the perception of temperature and pressure at certain locations on the skin of the thigh.
Next, imaging studies might be ordered. The physician may use an ultrasound or an MRI to evaluate the nerve. In some cases, an EMG (electromyogram) is used to evaluate the function of the nerve directly. These are used to look for other associated injuries, plan a possible surgical approach, and evaluate the severity of any nerve damage.
The Treatment of Nerve Compression
If the nerve entrapment has developed as a result of swelling following a fracture, the doctor may opt for conservative management. This may include ice and anti-inflammatories to try and reduce the swelling, relieving the compression. Gradually, the symptoms should start to fade away.
If this does not work quickly, a surgical nerve decompression will be performed. A trained orthopedic surgeon will free the nerve from its trapped location. Then, the function of the nerve should slowly return. The longer the nerve is entrapped, the more time it will take to restore function. If treated quickly, the prognosis is good.
Sacramento Femur Fracture Lawyers
I’m Ed Smith, a Femur Fracture Lawyer in Sacramento. Nerve entrapment can be a serious problem following a femur fracture. If you or a family member has suffered complications of a femur fracture due to the negligence of another person or entity, call me at your convenience at (800) 404-5400 or (916) 921-6400 for free, friendly legal advice.
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