A broken leg will be severely painful and may be swollen or bruised and you usually won’t be able to walk on it.
If it’s a severe fracture, the leg may be an odd shape and the bone may even be poking out of the skin.
There may have been a ‘crack’ sound when the leg was broken, and the shock and pain of breaking your leg may cause you to feel faint, dizzy or sick.
First, a doctor will give you painkillers and may fix a splint to your leg to secure it in position and prevent further damage.
For severe pain, you may be given pain-killing gas through a face mask or medication through a drip into a vein.
An X-ray is often necessary to assess the fracture.
If the broken bone is still in position, you’ll usually just need a plaster cast. This holds the bone in place so it can heal.
If there’s a lot of swelling, you may just have a splint or cast around the back half of your leg until the swelling goes down. A full cast can be fitted a few days later.
You may be provided with painkillers to take home and information on how to look after your cast.
If the bones are misaligned, a doctor or surgeon may need to put them back into place. This is known as ‘reduction’.
Sedatives are sometimes provided before the procedure and local or regional anaesthetic is used to numb the site of the break.
In some cases a general anaesthetic is needed, which means you’ll be asleep during the procedure.
Once the bones are in the correct position, a plaster cast can be applied.
Severe fractures are often treated with surgery to realign and fix the broken bones. Surgeons can fix bones with metal wires, plates, screws or rods.
Plates, screws and rods will usually be left in place permanently unless they become a problem, whereas wires will be removed four to six weeks after the operation.
Sometimes an external frame is attached to the broken bones with metal pins to help keep them in place. This is removed once the fracture has healed.
After surgery, a plaster cast may be applied to protect the leg.