For an athlete or anyone on the go, recovering from a bone break can feel like you’re under house arrest. Everything you want or need to do suddenly becomes difficult or near impossible. Until you are mended, leaving the house – or your bed – can be a pipedream. Even the most independent or fit person may need help tying their shoes, walking across the room or taking a bath. One thing is certain: when you break a bone, you need immediate medical attention. Here’s what you can do to treat a broken bone, and what to expect when you are seen by your orthopedist.
Defining Bone Breaks
Breaks – also referred to as fractures – can be more or less severe. Bones not only break because of accident or injury, they can also fracture because of disease, overuse or poor diet. Some breaks are “clean,” meaning the bones can be easily realigned into place. Comminuted fractures are much more complex, with fragments, splinters and pieces that can not be aligned; these fractures usually require surgical intervention and incur long recovery periods. With open – also known as compound – fractures, the bone has broken through the skin or is exposed through a wound that resulted from the injury or accident. These breaks, too, require special care to minimize further damage or risk of infection.
Immediate Action and Medical Treatment
A broken bone or a fracture requires immediate medical attention. You can mitigate the injury by doing the following while en route to an urgent care facility –
- Examine the area. Depending on the severity of the fracture, there may be swelling, bleeding, discoloration, evident deformity, or a bone piercing through the skin or visible within the injured area. Do you best to assess the damage to be able to explain to the urgent care provider while en route. Try to take pictures of the injury to capture the extent of the damage.
- Stop the bleeding. If there is bleeding, apply pressure near the wounded area (not on the broken bone itself) using a t-shirt, towel, or whatever clean, absorbent cloth you have handy. Do you best to elevate the injury; if you feel like you are going to faint, try to position your head lower than your trunk and elevate the legs if possible to reduce risk of shock. If the fracture is not exposed, apply ice to the area to reduce swelling. Do not place ice directly on the skin, rather, wrap the ice in a towel or plastic bag. Do not place place ice in an open wound.
- Apply a splint. If you have any training, apply a splint to the area around the fracture site. You can use a magazine, tree branch, or any other firm item to immobilize your bone, using a wrap such as a shirt, belt, or bandana to secure it in place. Immobilization is best when the fracture is clean; be cautious if the break is complex or fragmented; it may be best for emergency care to come to you. Whatever you do, do not attempt to realign the bone yourself; this could result in further damage. Leave setting and casting the bone to the professionals.
At the Orthopedist
Once you arrive at your urgent care or orthopedist’s office, expect your orthopedist to take imagery of the area to confirm what type of fracture you have incurred and the extent of the damange. Treatment usually focuses on realigning the broken bone and immobilization to assist the natural healing of the bones. With a cast or splint, you will not be able to move or bend the area. For small-bone injuries, you may only receive a sling or wrap. Your orthopedist may prescribe medication to ease the pain and reduce inflammation. If you are indeed casted or splinted, expect your orthopedist to remove the splint or cast when you are healed; after which time you likely will be prescribed a course of physical therapy to help you regain strength and range of mobility.
With severe breaks and breaks that can’t be casted, expect surgery or surgical traction. For instance, hip fractures will almost always require surgical intervention; in these cases, the orthopedic surgeon will place rods and pins to hold the fractured bone in place. Surgical traction – the use of pulleys, ropes and weights to realign the broken bones and reduce mobility – may be in order before surgery. Again, expect a course of physical therapy when the doctor says it’s okay.
Urgent Orthopedic Care in Clinton Township
We understand there’s never a good time to experience an orthopedic injury, and with many there is no time to wait. Located in Clinton Township, Movement Orthopedics offers same day orthopedic urgent care, as well as walk-ins — simply head to our Clinton Township clinic! Whether you are looking for a long-term orthopedic provider or someone to care for bumps, breaks and bruises, call Movement Orthopedics today at (586) 436-3785 or use our online request form.