How Is a Broken Bone Treated?
Motor vehicle collisions, slip and falls, and construction accidents can all cause broken bones. Fractures occur when the force of impact against the body is stronger than the bone can withstand. There are many different types of fractures, and treatment will depend on the type, location, and alignment of the fracture.
Common Treatments for Broken Bones
Resetting a broken bone: Fracture reduction or resetting is performed to better align broken bone ends. This treatment can be done either non-surgically (closed reduction) or surgically (open reduction). Closed reduction is performed manually in a maneuver after anesthesia has been administered. When the bone has been reset, a cast or splint is applied to hold the bone ends in better alignment as they heal.
Immobilization: A plaster or fiberglass cast is wrapped around the extremity with the broken bone and allowed to harden. Before the bone is immobilized, the broken ends must be adequately aligned to allow for proper healing. As of late 2019, a group of engineers in Chicago has designed a lightweight, breathable, waterproof cast that can be fitted in minutes and eliminates itching.
Traction: Although it is used less frequently today, traction is still a treatment option of choice in certain situations. It involves gently pulling the extremity to align the bone ends. With skeletal traction, a metal pin is placed in the bone, away from the fracture, to which weights and ropes are attached to gently pull the bone fragments into alignment and hold them in place. Skin traction is a different method that works by pulling on the extremity. It pulls with less force than skeletal traction.
Pins: Metal pins are used to stabilize bones when a cast is not sufficient to hold them in place. The pins are usually placed through the skin in an operating room and removed in the doctor’s office. The procedure to place the pins is called closed reduction with percutaneous pinning (CRPP).
External fixation: This process also uses pins that are placed through the skin. The difference is that the pins are held together outside the body with a frame to maintain alignment of the bones. This method is often used with open fractures that create an open wound in the skin. External fixation can be applied quickly and adjusted as necessary, and it allows for access to skin and soft tissue injuries. It may also be the option of choice when significant swelling could make surgery too risky.
Open reduction with internal fixation (ORIF): In this procedure, the site of the fracture is surgically opened. The bone fragments are aligned and held in place, often with metal plates and screws. This treatment may be recommended for fractures that are poorly aligned, around joints that are inadequately aligned, or that displace despite immobilization. In some situations, metal implants may have to be surgically removed at a later date.
Intramedullary rodding: This is a surgical procedure performed to stabilize a fractured bone by inserting a metal rod in the hollow, intramedullary canal of the bone where the bone marrow is, allowing for early weight-bearing and movement in some cases. This technique is commonly used for long bone fractures of the lower extremities that are not located close to the joints.
Treatment and recovery for broken bones can be extensive. If you have sustained orthopedic injuries in an accident that was someone else’s fault, contact the Tenge Law Firm, LLC at (303) 502-5587. Our Denver personal injury lawyers are dedicated advocates for injured people.
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