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Bone Fracture and Orthopedic Trauma CarePatient with arm brace

Broken bones (fractures) happen to people of all ages. Most often they occur as a result of an automobile accident, fall or sports injury. When a bone fracture occurs, it is often considered a traumatic injury because it requires fast treatment. This is especially true if the fracture occurs in a larger bone, like the humerus (upper arm bone), femur (thigh bone) or tibia and fibula (lower leg bones) or if the broken bone breaks through the skin.

There are two primary types of fractures: open and closed. An open fracture is when the broken bone goes through the skin, and is often accompanied by bleeding. A closed fracture, which is the more common type of fracture, is a broken bone that does not penetrate the skin.

Bone Fracture and Trauma Care Diagnostics and Testing

Orthopedic specialists may use a number of methods to determine if the symptoms do in fact point to a bone fracture. The most commonly used diagnostic tests for this situation are X-rays and bone scans.

An X-Ray in a noninvasive medical imaging test that allows the physician to clearly see the bone. It can be used to take images of any bone in the body – even the smallest ones like those found in the fingers and feet.

A bone scan is similar to an X-ray in that it’s a noninvasive test that allows the physician to see various parts of the body; however, a bone scan is a form of nuclear imaging. This means that radioactive materials called tracers are injected into the body through a vein. One of the benefits of a bone scan is that it allows the entire skeletal system to be scanned, if needed.

Bone Fracture and Trauma Care Treatment

A bone fracture needs to be diagnosed and treated immediately because it can lead to other health risks and complications such as blood vessel injury and nerve damage, if left undetected and untreated. That’s why this type of injury is considered such a traumatic injury requiring immediate medical attention, often through a visit to an emergency room.

Your orthopedic trauma care specialist will work with you to decide the best course of treatment for your broken bone. He or she will most likely choose one of the following forms of treatment:

  • Open Reduction and Internal Fixation - This is a type of orthopedic surgery that involves the repositioning of bone fragments. The fragments are then held together with special screws, metal plates or rods. It is most often used for shattered bones and severe fractures.
  • External Fixation - This procedure involves the use of a stabilizing frame to hold the bone fragments together. The orthopedic surgeon will put pins or screws around the broken bone. After that, the broken bone will be repositioned. Eventually the external fixation device is removed, but sometimes it may also require an internal fixation procedure as described above.
  • Traction - With this treatment option, the orthopedic surgeon will align the broken bone by using a pulling force applied through the use of skin tapes or a metal pin. Sometimes this is used as a first step to align the bones before another type of treatment is sought.
  • Casts, Slings, Splints, Braces - The fracture can’t heal if it’s not kept in place. These devices allow the broken bone to stay in one place so it can heal. Based on your injury, your orthopedic doctor will determine how long you will need one of these devices and if it can be removed for special circumstances, like bathing or exercising.
  • Walkers, Canes, Crutches - These devices help provide mobility support so you don’t have to put all of your bodyweight on the broken bone. Depending on where the fracture occurred, you may have to use a walker, cane or pair of crutches to help you get around until the bone can bear weight.

Hunt Regional’s orthopedic trauma doctors are ready to care for any patient who may have a traumatic bone fracture or other orthopedic condition. Broken bones can be painful and can lead to other health problems if not properly treated, which is why we’re here to help correct the problem as quickly as possible.

Learn more about our Orthopedic Services by reading our Orthopedic FAQs today.

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