It’s a pretty common occurrence to have a broken bone. Especially for children, whose bones are yet to be fully developed, bones can be broken quite easily. Luckily for children, bones heal faster for them than they do for adults. Many different complications can happen when there are fractures, depending on the bone. This also depends on how severe the break is, and how old the person is.
There is also a threat of infection with any compound fracture, because the break in the skin can allow germs to enter the body. If there are broken ribs, these can pierce internal organs, and the healing process can accidentally harm other tissues or organs. In compartment syndrome, a the muscle around the fracture can swell tightly and prevent oxygen from entering the tissue. Without sufficient oxygen, the muscle tissue can swell until muscle injury or even muscle death occurs. A pulmonary embolism may happen when the blood clotting from the fracture breaks loose and blocks an artery or a lung. This is very common with pelvis and hip fractures, which can cause death.
When a bone is broken, and these possibilities can occur, a doctor will approach a suspected fracture by following specific steps. These steps will help to ensure that the bone will heal properly, and the patient will be able to return to normal.
The doctor will begin by determining whether or not an actual fracture occurred and, if so, how severe it is. Treatment will then vary depending on the physician knowing what he or she is dealing with. Doctors will usually undergo a series of examinations and inspect x-rays of the damaged area, in order to diagnose the problem.
In order to ensure that the bone will heal in a natural position, the doctor must align the bones back in the correct position, so the body can do its part. The doctor will immobilize the area with a sling, brace, splint, or cast. A fracture may require further alignment, and because of this, a patient may need a local anesthetic to temporarily lessen the pain they feel.
Immobilization isn’t always enough to make sure that the bone heals properly. If there are complex fractures, a system of ropes, pulleys, and weights will constantly pull on fractured limbs in order to maintain alignment necessary for healing. This may mean an extended hospital stay so this can be monitored.
The majority of fractures can and should be treated without surgery. However, there are some injuries that require doctors to treat the damaged bone quite aggressively. Sometimes these doctors will perform a surgery to remove bone fragments or other foreign materials. The best way to stabilize certain types of fractures is to surgically align bones with implanted screws or pins, and metal rods. Some fractures in the joints or the hips may require artificial replacements in order to ensure proper alignment and healing.
Because immobilization needs to occur in order for the bone to heal, this also means that the muscles surrounding the immobilized area are not allowed to work. This can lead to loss of muscle flexibility, strength, and mass. There should be special exercise regimes put in place so the patient can gradually regain this strength in their muscles, without injuring themselves again.
Breaking a bone is never fun, but with modern medicine, steps can be taken to make sure you return to full health following the incident.