Some common fractures include:
- Stable fractures where the bone is affected only slightly
- Comminuted fractures where the bone is broken into several pieces
- Open, compound fractures where the skin is broken; this type of injury carries the additional risk of bone infection
- Oblique fractures, which show an angled pattern
- Greenstick fractures, which are seen in children whose bones bend like a willow twig
- Impacted fractures, where the bones are jammed together
Causes of Bone Fractures
Some of the most common causes of fractures include motor vehicle accidents, contact sports, osteoporosis (which weakens the bones and makes them vulnerable upon falling), and repetitive use of one body part. While most fractures are painful and prevent the patient from moving the injured part, some fractures can be subtle and cause little pain but only swelling and tenderness. For this reason, it’s necessary to be seen by a doctor who can make a diagnosis and design a treatment plan.
The doctor will examine a patient who has an injury. He may order x-rays or other imaging tests. Treatment of bone fractures depends on the location and severity of the injury. The first line of defense is to reset the broken bone to its natural position, a process called reduction.
A fracture will knit itself back together over time. Soon after the injury occurs, a protective blood clot and callus form. Then new thread-like bone fragments start to grow. Eventually the fracture closes and the callus is absorbed. This healing process can take several months.
Some fractures are treated with immobilization, using a cast or brace to hold the broken pieces in place. There are also casts and braces that allow controlled movement. Traction is another therapeutic method, using gravity to hold the bone in place. Some fractures need to be treated surgically. Fractures that require internal or external fixation are stabilized with plates, pins or screws.
Bone Fracture Recovery
Pain associated with a bone fracture will usually cease before the bone is ready to be subjected to normal activity. The doctor can advise the patient about how soon and how much activity is allowed while the bone is healing.
Even after a cast or a brace is removed, the bone may not be strong enough to resume its pre-injury activities.
While the fracture heals, it’s common to lose some muscle strength in the affected area. Ask the medical staff if there are exercises to help retain and restore muscle strength, flexibility and range of motion for the entire body.
Fractures can be prevented by following a diet that is rich in calcium and Vitamin D, both of which are bone-strengthening substances. Weight-bearing exercise is also believed to help bone density and thus provide resistance to fractures.
Common Questions about Treating Bone Fractures
How can you tell if I have a bone fracture?
A fracture is a broken bone regardless of how “small” or “simple” it is. That’s why it requires prompt medical care.
Our orthopedic doctors at all our Florida locations treat fractures of all kinds. They may conduct an imaging test to analyze the injury more closely.
What are the causes of bone fractures?
There are many causes of fractures, such as vehicular accidents, trauma or fall, contact sports, repetitive use of one body part, and osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is characterized by weakened bones, making them more prone to fractures.
How will an orthopedic specialist treat bone fractures?
Specialists from our Florida clinics are excellent in treating bone fractures. Our orthopedic specialists will use different methods depending on the type of bone fractures.
In many cases, fractures can be treated with immobilization using a cast or brace. Traction is another therapeutic method that uses gravity to hold the bones together.
Some bone fractures may require surgery. Some fractures may require internal or external fixation, wherein metal plates, screws, or flexible K-wires may be used to keep the bones aligned and strong.
How will I know if my bone fracture is healing?
Your orthopedic doctor is the best person to evaluate whether your bone fracture is healing well. A fracture may heal more slowly than others. This does not mean that the treatment you received was inappropriate or incorrect. Sometimes it is challenging to assess healing with x-rays, so the doctor may conduct a clinical examination.
How long does a bone fracture take to heal?
Healing time depends on many factors, such as the blood supply to the bone, the severity of the fracture, the cause of the fracture, and the patient’s general health. Often, things you don’t think matter will impact bone healing, such as smoking or diabetes.
It usually takes 8 to 12 weeks to heal a fracture to the point that it can be walked on. Some areas of bone heal more slowly because of a poor blood supply.
I have fractured my bone. What should I do during recovery?
When a bone fracture occurs, the pain usually ceases before a normal activity is allowed. During the healing process, our doctors will advise you how soon and how much activity is permitted. The bone may not be strong enough to resume its usual activities despite removing a cast or brace.
While the fracture heals, it’s common to lose muscle strength in the affected area. Our orthopedic specialists will determine if you need physical or occupational therapy. We recommend exercises that enhance muscle strength, flexibility, and range of motion throughout your body.