It can happen in an instant: an accident on the sports field or tripping on the rug can result in a broken bone that requires immediate treatment.
There are 206 bones in the human body, and countless ways these bones can be broken. These bones work together to support your movement and structure. If something goes wrong, it can result in a domino effect that impacts your overall function.
If you suspect a bone fracture, then the best thing you can do is schedule an immediate consultation with an orthopedic specialist. If the bone fails to heal correctly, it can result in significant consequences. Therefore, fast and effective treatment is essential to protect your health and function now and in the future.
Types of Bone Fractures
The first step is to identify the location and type of bone fracture. Treatment varies depending on the severity of the fracture and how the bone is affected.
A broken bone (also known as a bone fracture) disrupts the bone structure because of a full break or smaller crack in the bone. The best way to diagnose this condition is through an examination with a bone specialist and digital imaging using X-ray technology.
Here is an overview of the different types of bone fractures that can occur:
- Stress Fracture: Most broken bones happen because of a single event or trauma. On the other hand, stress fractures develop over time because of repetitive motion and mechanical stress placed on the bone. Even though it is a small hairline break, it can cause severe pain.
- Chip Fracture: This type of bone fracture happens when a ligament or tendon pulls in opposite directions, causing a small piece of bone to detach. It is also known as an avulsion fracture.
- Comminuted Fracture: An injury that causes the bone to break into multiple fragments. This type of fracture results in a splintering effect in the bone and can affect any part of the body.
- Transverse Fracture: The most apparent type of broken bone is when there is a 90-degree angle in the break. These injuries usually happen because of direct trauma to the bone.
- Pathologic Fracture: Other health conditions can contribute to the development of a bone fracture. For example, patients with cancer or osteoporosis can have brittle bones, which can lead to minor fractures that occur over time as the disease progresses.
- Oblique Fracture: When the bone is twisted, it can result in an oblique fracture. Usually, the break is angled in contrast to the bone. The most common parts of the body affected by this type of fracture include the tibia, fibula, or femur.
Diagnosis and Treatment for Broken Bones
Keep in mind that broken bones can be either open or closed. If it is an open injury, then it means that the bone is severely broken, and the bone is showing through the skin. Open fractures require surgery to close the wound and reposition the bone.
Even though a closed fracture doesn’t look as severe on the outside, it still requires immediate treatment to ensure optimal healing. However, closed fractures are more common than open ones and can sometimes be treated without surgery.
Modern technology has improved the diagnostic process, helping a bone specialist see what is happening inside. The first step is to determine whether the bone is broken and what type of injury you have. Then, the orthopedic doctor can help you choose the best course of treatment.
X-rays are often sufficient, although there are times when an MRI or CT scan might be necessary to get more detailed images.
The broken pieces must be close together for the bones to heal correctly. Additionally, treatment needs to minimize significant movement, so casting or braces are common to hold the bones in the correct position.
When Should I See an Orthopedic Specialist?
How do you know if you need to see an orthopedic specialist for a bone injury? If you suspect that your bone is broken, then the best thing you can do is talk to a doctor immediately.
It’s wise to go to an orthopedic specialist right away, even if you are unsure about the type of injury. Prompt treatment improves the long-term outcome, especially when broken bones are involved.
Some patients feel a lot of pain immediately after the injury occurs, and it is clear that medical treatment is necessary. But it’s also possible to have a smaller fracture and not know that the bone is broken. In addition, symptoms can change depending on the type of fracture or injury you are experiencing.
Here are a few signs that you should seek treatment from an orthopedic specialist right away:
- Head straight to the emergency room if you have a broken bone and an open wound.
- When an accident or injury occurs (car accident, sports injury, etc.), it’s best to consult with a doctor for a diagnosis – especially if you are experiencing moderate to high pain levels.
- Watch for other symptoms accompanying the pain, such as swelling, weakness, immobility, or bruising. These symptoms indicate a serious injury and likely mean that you need medical treatment.
Emergency Room vs. Orthopedic Specialist for Broken Bones
When immediate treatment is needed for an accident or injury, the emergency room or urgent care center is typically the place to go. These clinics are excellent for prompt treatment and general medical care.
But keep in mind that emergency room doctors don’t have the same level of expertise you can access by visiting with an orthopedic specialist. So even if you go to the emergency room to stabilize the injury, it’s wise to schedule a follow-up appointment with an orthopedic doctor as soon as possible.
An orthopedic specialist has the knowledge and training to determine the type of fracture you have and the best treatment plan to ensure optimal healing. Additionally, your orthopedic doctor will monitor your progress and adjust the recovery treatments as needed.
Even when the pain starts to subside and the bone is healing, it’s essential to continue treatments with an orthopedic specialist. Post-recovery care can optimize your function and strength in the future. In addition, these therapies help you avoid long-term mobility issues, weakness, and lingering pain.
Timely Treatment from an Orthopedic Doctor
Time is of the essence when a bone is broken. It’s best to meet with an orthopedic specialist sooner rather than later. Call our office as quickly as possible so we can determine the extent of your injury and assist in creating the ideal treatment plan to facilitate your healing.
Orthopedic Associates provides a full-service approach, helping patients with everything from sports injuries to chronic pain. We invite you to book an appointment. Call our office any time at (972) 420-1776.