Trauma & Fracture Treatment

There exists a misconception that there is a difference between a fracture and a broken bone. A fracture is a break and a break is a fracture. The fracture can be complete or incomplete but it is still a broken bone. Fractures result from trauma to the bone that is in excess of what the bone can tolerate. The causative trauma can be low impact if the bone is weak, such as in patients with osteoporosis. A fracture can be the culmination of repetitive trauma or overuse, commonly referred to as stress fractures. Lastly, fractures come about as a result of high impact events such as falls, motor vehicle accidents, or athletic events.

Fractures are typically diagnosed by plain x-rays, although more sophisticated tests such as MRI, CAT scans, or bone scan may be necessary to diagnose and/or treat fractures. Even though x-rays taken immediately after an injury will demonstrate a fracture, there are certain situations when the x-ray may not be diagnostic until 10-14 days after the trauma.

The goal of treatment of fractures by our physicians is to allow fracture healing while maintaining the form and function of the bone and the surrounding structures. This means taking measures to allow the joints adjacent to the broken bone to move as soon as suitable, yet protecting the broken bone. Treatment of the fracture is dependent on the severity of the fracture, which bone is broken, and most importantly the status of the patient. Our surgeons will determine if the fracture needs to be reduced (straightened out), or if the fracture may be treated in a splint, cast, or brace. In many instances the best way to optimally achieve treatment goals is to treat the fracture by surgery to straighten the bone and possibly insert pins, plates, screws, or rods.

After the fracture heals it is imperative that the injured extremity is fully rehabilitated, which means it is returned to normal function, size, and strength. Our physical therapists involved in this process that is coordinated by our doctors.