Our surgeons will use casts, splints, screws, plates and other devices to hold a healing fractured bone in the correct position.
Fractures or broken bones are among the most common orthopedic problems. About 6.8 million come to medical attention each year in the United States. Fractures happen because an area of bone is not able to support the energy placed on it. The surgeons at Mulroy Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine have extensive experience in treating fractures in all areas of the skeleton. They utilize the latest technology to fix your broken bones through the smallest incisions possible.
How Do Fractures Happen?
- Trauma accounts for most fractures. For example, a fall, a motor vehicle accident or a tackle during a football game can all result in a fracture.
- Osteoporosis also can contribute to fractures. Osteoporosis is a bone disease that results in the “thinning” of the bone. The bones become fragile and easily broken.
- Overuse sometimes results in stress fractures. These are common among athletes.
Usually, you will know immediately if you have broken a bone. You may hear a snap or cracking sound. The area around the fracture will be tender and swollen. A limb may be deformed, or a part of the bone may puncture through the skin.
Doctors usually use an X-ray to verify the diagnosis. Stress fractures are more difficult to diagnose, because they may not immediately appear on an X-ray; however, there may be pain, tenderness and mild swelling next the bone. MRI’s and bone scans are used to confirm the diagnosis
Types Of Fractures
- Closed or simple fracture. The bone is broken, but the skin is not lacerated.
- Open or compound fracture. The skin may be pierced by the bone or by a blow that breaks the skin at the time of the fracture. The bone may or may not be visible in the wound.
- Transverse fracture. The fracture is at right angles to the long axis of the bone.
- Greenstick fracture. Fracture on one side of the bone, causing a bend on the other side of the bone.
The Healing Process
As soon as a fracture occurs, the body acts to protect the injured area, forming a protective blood clot and callus or fibrous tissue.
New “threads” of bone cells start to grow on both sides of the fracture line. These threads grow toward each other. The fracture closes and the callus is absorbed.
Treatment For Fractures
A fracture is a broken bone. Most fractures are in two pieces but some can be very complex with many pieces making treatment very complex. Our surgeons use casts, splints, screws, plates or other devices to hold a fracture in the correct position while the bone is healing.
- External fixation methods include plaster and fiberglass casts, cast-braces, splints, and other devices.
- Internal fixation methods hold the broken pieces of bone in proper position with metal plates, pins, or screws while the bone is healing.
Recovery And Rehabilitation
Fractures take several weeks to several months to heal, depending on the extent of the injury and how well you follow your doctor’s advice. Pain usually stops long before the fracture is solid enough to handle the stresses of normal activity.
Even after your cast or brace is removed, you may need to continue limiting your activity until the bone is solid enough to use in normal activity. Usually, by the time the bone is strong enough, the muscles will be weak because they have not been used. Your ligaments may feel “stiff” from not using them. You will need a period of rehabilitation that involves exercises and gradually increasing activity before those tissues will perform their functions normally and the healing process is complete. Our doctors will provide you with an individualized rehabilitation program.