General Orthopedic Care – Caring for Broken Bones

General Orthopedic Care – Caring for Broken Bones

There are many ways a bone can be injured or broken. Car accidents, contact sports, falls, and workplace accidents are some of the most common ways bones sustain injuries. Regardless of the cause, broken bones should be treated as soon as possible to avoid complications. The best way to treat an injury to a bone is to ensure proper alignment and stabilization.

Leaving a bone break or injury untreated can result in complications including bone deformity and permanent nerve damage. An untreated break may also cause damage to surrounding muscle and ligaments. These complications occur because bone is living tissue that attempts to heal itself in stages:

  • The trauma of the break damages blood vessels within the bone resulting in bleeding inside the tissue. Within hours this blood forms a clot. The blood clot associated with a broken bone contains specialized cells known as fibroblasts.
  • In a few days, these cells begin to manufacture granulation tissue. This tissue begins to form a web of cartilage and fibrocartilage and is known as the soft callus stage. This stage may last from about four days to as long as three weeks in most cases.
  • At this point cells known as osteoblasts begin to make new bone tissue. Usually, this process begins at about two to three weeks and ends at about six to eight weeks. This is known as the hard callus stage and depending on the location and severity of the break, may continue for months.
  • The final process is remodeling. Specialized cells called osteoclasts begin to break down excess bone in the fractured area, reducing the size of the callus and replacing it with hard, compact bone tissue. As this happens, the bone returns to its original size and shape. During this time, the bone functions as well as before the break; however, the process of complete remodeling can take years to complete.

Because bone begins to heal itself almost immediately after an injury, it is vital to see a doctor as soon as possible in order to assure correct healing and avoid complications.

When you visit our office for a broken bone, an X-ray of the affected area would be done to determine the type and severity of the break. For the majority of simple fractures, the bone is able to be gently manipulated back into place. If a more complex or severe break is found, the bone may require stabilization with pins, screws, or plates. Once the bone is back to the correct alignment, immobilization with a cast, splint, or in some cases, traction is essential in order to minimize pain and allow the bone to continue to repair itself in the correct position.

Once the bone is stabilized, recovery and rehabilitation can begin. Dr. Irvine and his team will devise a plan to suit your specific needs. A proper rehabilitation program promotes blood flow to assist in healing and maintaining muscle tone, while also reducing stiffness and helping prevent blood clots.

No matter what the cause, Missouri Orthopedics & Advanced Sports Medicine is here to help. Our clinic can diagnose and treat all types of breaks to get you back to your day-to-day activities. Contact us if you suspect you may have a broken bone or other orthopedic injury. We provide prompt, professional care to minimize further damage and get you back to a healthy, active lifestyle.