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How to Treat a Fracture | Car Accident Doctor Atlanta

October 31, 2011

The goal of treatment is to have a completely healed and well-aligned bone that works normally. The broken pieces must be put back into the correct position and kept in proper alignment until healing is complete. The treatment of a fracture depends upon the type and location of the fracture, if there are other injuries, and how serious those injuries are.

How are fractures diagnosed?

X-rays are the best way to determine the proper diagnosis and type of treatment needed. Sometimes in more complicated cases a CT scan or MRI may also be used.

What are the different types of fracture treatment?

Some fractures, such as ribs, do not require treatment. Small hairline fractures may only require rest and ice. If there is a fracture and the bone is still lined up properly, the only treatment necessary may be wearing a splint or cast to protect the bone while it heals.

The types of treatment include:

Casts or splints

Closed reduction and traction

Open reduction and internal fixation

External fixation

Casts and splints: The most common treatment is a plaster or fiberglass cast. Casts are used for bones that are in the correct position. A cast holds the broken bone in place and prevents movement while it heals. A splint is a partial cast. Sometimes a splint is used instead of a cast. A splint is usually held in place with an elastic bandage. Some fractures require limited or controlled movement of nearby joints.

Closed reduction and traction: In some fractures, the ends of the fractured bone may not line up correctly. In this case the fractured pieces need to be repositioned so they line up correctly. This is a reduction or realignment. If your bone can be realigned by moving it into the correct position without having surgery it is called a closed reduction. Your doctor may try to move it into position or may use traction to help gently pull the bones into position.

Open reduction and internal fixation: Sometimes surgery is necessary to realign the bones. An open reduction and internal fixation of the bone requires an orthopedic surgeon. This surgery involves cutting open the skin of the area over the fracture so bone fragments can be put back into place and the bone held in place. The bone fragments are held in place with special screws or by attaching metal plates to the bone. Pins that go through the bone or rods that go inside the length of the bone are also used to keep the bone in place.

External fixation: External fixation is done without making a cut. First, a closed reduction is done to move the bones in place. Next, pins or screws are put through the skin and bone above and below the fracture. These are connected to metal bars on the outside of the skin to form a frame around the fracture. This frame keeps the bone pieces in place. When the healing is complete, the fixation device is removed.

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