What is A Fracture?
A fracture is a break or crack in a bone that occurs when the bone cannot withstand the amount of force being placed on it.
A fracture is usually the result of trauma, a fall or a direct blow to the body. The severity of a fracture usually depends on the force that caused the break.
A bone may be completely fractured or partially fractured in several different ways. Treatment for fractures may include a splint, cast or surgery, depending on the severity and location of the break.
How do I know if my fracture will require surgery?
Fractures always need treatment. The question of whether a fracture will need surgery is if the bone has become displaced. As mentioned above, this means the bone has snapped into two or more parts and the ends are not aligned. Hip fractures will invariably need surgery. Open fractures will always require surgery, as well, to attend to both the bone and the wound it created.
Types of bone fractures
The main categories of fractures are displaced, non-displaced, open, and closed.
- Displaced fractures
The bone snaps into two or more parts and moves so that the two ends are not aligned. If the bone has broken into many pieces, it is known as a comminuted fracture.
- Non-displaced fractures
The bone cracks either part or all of the way through, but it does not move, and it maintains the proper alignment.
- Open fractures
The bone breaks through the skin. It may initially break through the skin and then recede into the wound.
- Closed fractures
The bone breaks, but there is no puncture or open wound in the skin.
Bone Fracture Treatment
A displaced fracture may require the broken bones to be realigned, prior to splinting or casting. Patients with displaced fractures may require surgery to realign the bone.
This is most often done as outpatient surgery at the Texas Surgical Center under anesthesia. Some minor displaced fractures may be corrected in the office under a local anesthetic. Internal fixation devices, including plates, rods or screws, may also be used to maintain proper position of the bone during healing.
Dr. Floyd is always so amazing!! He has treated both of my son’s as well as myself and he is definitely our GO TO ortho!!! The “cast lady” is amazing as well. These people are the best!!! – Source: Facebook
How Long Does it Take for A Fracture to Heal?
Fractures may take several weeks to several months to heal, depending on the extent of the injury. During the healing phase, physical therapy is often recommended to restore normal muscle strength, range of motion, and flexibility.
If a fracture is not fully healed after 90 days, bone stimulation can be used as a safe, non-invasive way to stimulate natural healing.
Contact Urgent Orthopedic Specialists to learn more about fracture treatments where we serve the Midland, Odessa, Big Spring, Stanton, Andrews, and every other small town in between!
What can I expect for my physical therapy after a fracture?
At Urgent Orthopedic Specialists, we include physical therapy in most of our fracture treatments. This ensures the patient can return to optimum function as soon as possible.
The first contact will be in the hospital (if you’re in one). The physical therapist will show you how to walk with your crutches or cane, including how to navigate stairs and get into and out of a car. If you have a lower extremity fracture, your PT will help you understand how to limit the weight you put on your leg.
If you can’t leave your home due to the fracture, we’ll order physical therapy to come to you. The first task will be to help you navigate your house using the crutches or cane. Next, you’ll be instructed in exercises to help improve your overall endurance and to strengthen the muscles around the fracture site.
The true physical therapy will come when you have recovered enough to travel to the PT center or clinic. The goal now will be to restore normal and full function. This will usually occur after the cast has been removed and you can start to engage the area around the fracture.
The first visit will be a time to gauge where you are. Your therapist will take measurements of:
- Range of motion
- Girth or swelling
- Gait (for lower body fractures
- Overall function and mobility
Using the above measurements, your physical therapist will work with you to devise a treatment plan. The first goals will be to overcome the negative effects of being immobilized by the case or sling. This has led to loss of motion and strength and decreased functional mobility. From there, the goal will progress to helping you improve functional mobility. For lower body fractures, this will include walking. For arms and shoulders, this will focus on reaching and grasping.
In most cases, your fracture should be healed by about 8 weeks. Your PT timeline will vary widely depending upon the type of fracture, your age, and other variables.
“We had excellent care with Dr Rowland and his staff. It started with the sweet friendly girl who checked us in, Dr Rowland’s nurse and Dr Rowland. He is very kind and takes his time to explain and answer all of your questions. I highly recommend him.” – M.H.
When can I return to sports or exercise after my fracture?
As you would imagine, there are many “it depends” involved in this answer. Everyone tends to heal at a different rate, so that must be taken into account. Plus, the location of the fracture plays a key role in a timeline for returning to sports and strenuous exercise involving the fractured area. Here are some numbers, but these are not set in stone.
Healing time for a pinky finger is about 3 to 5 weeks. Healing time for a broken collarbone is from 5 to 10 weeks. Full weight-bearing bones will need far longer.
The goal of healing and rehabilitation should be 85 percent of full strength, along with symmetrical range of motion between the fractured bone and other corresponding bones on the other side.
Dr. Floyd and our team at Urgent Orthopedic Specialists will follow your unique healing status and advise you on when you can return to sports and exercise. This is not something to rush, as you risk reinjury.
Can I take NSAIDs for a fracture?
There is research showing that nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications, including Advil, Aleve, Celebrex, and others, may thwart bone healing by blocking the enzymes and inflammatory responses that help broken bones rebuild themselves. In one study with 400 patients with broken legs, those who routinely took NSAIDs were 10 times more likely to have healing complications, and they took an average of two months longer to heal when compare to non-NSAID users.
It’s a good idea to use acetaminophen (Tylenol) for at least 6 weeks after your fracture to fully let the bone heal.
Should I use ice or heat for a fracture?
Heat really has no place in these recoveries until the last stage of bone healing. The initial stage of healing with acute inflammation and increased swelling usually lasts from 1-3 weeks. This period should only involve icing.
Ice should be used, if needed, in the next stage of healing, known as soft callus formation. This is where the healing bone is just beginning to harden. This stage occurs in 4-8 weeks after the injury.
Only in the hard callus stage, where the bone transforms and hardens is heat appropriate. This will be somewhere between 8-12 weeks after the injury. Heat at this stage is really meant to help reduce muscle stiffness and encourage movement.
What can happen if a fracture is left untreated?
Sometimes we see patients who have a bone deformity from a previous fracture that they never had treated. Patients often assume they have sprained a ligament, rather than broken a bone. The symptoms can be very similar; that’s why an x-ray needs to be performed.
Leaving a potentially fractured bone untreated is a dangerous idea. Any fracture needs medical attention, or you risk these complications:
- Bone deformity
- Permanent nerve damage
- Muscle and ligament damage
- Extended pain and swelling
That’s why it’s prudent to come see us once you have an injury. That way we can see if it’s a ligament problem (sprain) or a bone problem (fracture) and proceed with treatment accordingly.
Schedule Your Fracture Consultation Today!
Interested in learning more about your fracture treatment options at Urgent Orthopedic Specialists? Call us at (432) 520-3020 to schedule your consultation with one of our orthopedic specialists today!