A fracture is a break in the bone that can occur from either a quick, one-time injury to the bone (acute fracture) or repeated stress to the bone over time (stress fracture). When the bone is broken or injured, it will irritate nerve endings surrounding the bone and result in pain. A break in the bone often accompanies by bleeding, which leads to swelling. Furthermore, muscles around the area try to hold the bone in place and cause spasms.
Fractures can occur in all ages. In the elderly who have weaker bones, fractures are often the result of falling. In younger patients with stronger bones, more common causes of fractures include high-impact injuries such as automobile accidents, sports accidents, or work-related accidents.
Treatments depend on the severity of the fracture and the overall health of the patient. Dr. Nguyen will choose the best option for your situation. Surgery will only be suggested when there is a clear advantage compared to other options.
Bone fractures are typically treated by restoring the fractured pieces to their natural positions and maintaining those positions while the bone heals.
Most fractures can be treated by immobilizing with a cast or a splint. For example, after Dr. Nguyen aligns the bones, a moon boot is used to hold them in position and immobilize the joints above and below the fracture. Some low-impact rib fractures will heal without the need for casting or surgery.
Smaller bones, such as phalanges of the toes and fingers, may be treated without the cast. Buddy tape can be used to immobilize, which serves a similar function to a cast.
For highly unstable fractures, the doctor will manipulate the injured area. More specifically, the surgical insertion of pins, plates, or screws will keep an affected bone in place. This procedure is often necessary for severely comminuted fractures with significant displacement, and the bone is badly splintered. Surgery also removes bone fragments that might turn into dead bone tissue and impede the healing process. Irrigation or cleansing of the wounded area is also carried out at the time of surgery. When fractures are left untreated, they could result in severe infection, which leads to amputation.
Patients with ligament or tendon tears also need surgery for ligament reconstruction or tendon repair. Without surgery, the patient will not be able to function as before the injury.
A hip fracture is a fracture in the proximal end of the femur (the long bone running through the thigh), near the hip joint. Osteoporosis, a condition where bones lose their calcium content, can increase the risk of hip fracture because it makes the bone more susceptible to breaking.
Treatment of a hip fracture almost always requires surgery. In cases of stress fractures of the hip or in patients with severe medical problems that prevent surgical treatment, non-operative treatment may be recommended. There are several types of hip-fracture repair surgeries available; the one used depends on the patient's age, the exact location of the fracture, and the severity of the fracture.
Internal fixation involves the insertion of metal screws that fit on the inside of broken parts of bone to hold them together or a plate that fits outside of the bone. This method is only used if the bone can be realigned properly after the fracture. This repair can be stressful for older patients, who would require a longer recovery period. Hip replacement is usually the better, less painful option.