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When Things Go Crack!

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A fracture of the bone is a result from abnormal stress or force applied to the bone. Depending on the force and mechanism of the injury you can have various types of fractures. Some fractures are non-displaced hair line fractures while some higher impact fractures can result in complete dislocation. Certain medical conditions can affect the quality of an person's bone causing the bone to break more easily. These fractures can be called pathologic fractures. Some conditions that contribute to weakening the bone are osteoporosis, collagen disorders, cancer, or tumors. Smoking is also known to lower your bone density therefore, making your bones weaker and more susceptible to fractures.  A type of pathological fracture you can also experience is “fragility fractures,” which is when you break a bone from normal activities or a fall from your standing height or less. The main symptom you will find with a broken bone is of course pain! Generally you will be able to localize pain directly over the fractured bone. Other symptoms you will find with broken bones are swelling, muscle spasm, and damage to adjacent vessels or nerves.  

So how do we treat these broken bones?

A broken bone will usually be treated in one of two ways: surgery or immobilization.


Many broken bones that involve any displacement or gapping require surgery for the best outcome for the patient. Placing the bones back into anatomical alignment and achieving reduction of the fragments is essential in decreasing future pain and traumatic arthritis. Some areas of fractures do not have the best source of blood supply to the area so require surgery to try to prevent non-unions of the bone from forming. Generally surgery is performed by applying plates, screws, surgical nails, and/or wires to the bone to hold it in the appropriate reduction.


The other common way of treating a fracture is everyone’s favorite -- a cast! On simple non displaced fractures, patients don’t always require surgery and just need immobilization to allow the bone to heal on its own. Bone healing is a natural process of the body, and micro motion in the fracture site can impede this natural process. Tendons and ligaments attach all over the foot and ankle, and if not properly immobilized these tendons and ligaments can continue to pull on the fracture site causing micro motion. Immobilizing in a cast or walking boot will allow the bone to heal without undergoing any excess motion. Bone generally requires 4-8 weeks to heal a fracture site. Smoking, medical conditions, and nutrition can all have an impact on how long the body will take to heal the fracture site. So if you have a trauma, fall, blow, sprain, or any other high impact and think you might have a broken bone due to pain or edema. Come on in to get checked out so we can reduce any long term effects or pain you might endure from a broken bone.

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