The best treatment for a broken bone depends on the location of that bone and the severity of the fracture. While simple breaks may require a few weeks in a simple cast, other breaks will require surgery performed by an orthopedic surgeon. With a stable fracture, which is a step up from a sprain, your doctor may recommend that you wrap the bone and elevate the area until it heals. Other types of breaks like a compound, oblique, or comminuted fracture will usually require some type of surgery. Orthopedic surgeons will take x-rays and do a physical examination before deciding if surgery is the right option for you.
What Causes Bone Breaks?
Accidents are among the leading causes of broken bones. You might trip over a toy on the floor and land on your leg at an odd angle, which breaks one of your leg bones. Trauma such as a car accident may also cause one of your bones to break. One of the leading causes of broken bones among athletes is overuse. The more time you spend practicing and playing, the more likely it is that you’ll overuse your body, which can lead to a stress fracture. Adults suffering from osteoporosis may also suffer from broken bones because their bones are softer and weaker.
One type of surgery that orthopedic surgeons use to treat broken bones is something called external fixation. This involves the use of surgical screws or pins. The doctor uses these screws to immobilize the bone and give it time to heal. After putting you under anesthesia, the doctor will insert the screws and pins directly into the bone, both above and below the fracture. Those screws then connect to a metal bar placed on the outside of your body. In some cases, doctors will use this procedure to stabilize the bone until the surrounding tissue can heal and you can go through surgery.
Internal fixation is similar to external fixation but does not require the use of an external metal bar. The surgeon will position your bone back into its natural placement before using surgical pins or screws to secure the bone in place. You may need to wear a cast over the incisions until the bone heals. Doctors may also apply a metal rod to the bone instead of using screws. Your orthopedic surgeon will decide which type of surgery is right for you based on your x-rays.