Many people have the misconception that broken bones and fractures are different injuries. In reality, “fracture” is a clinical term and “break” is a lay term, but the two have the same meaning. Both words refer to a loss of integrity in the bone that can range from a simple hairline crack to a complex injury with multiple bone fragments. Additionally, people tend to believe that, if they can move their bone, it isn’t broken. This is not true. Any swollen, bruised, painful joint that has been injured should be evaluated and X-rayed to assess for a fracture. If you have an injury that fits this description, stop by our walk-in-clinic for a consultation. Even if you’ve injured the same bone as someone you know, your treatment options could vary greatly.
Your treatment options depend upon a number of things—most significantly, the location and severity of the break. At the Orthopedic Institute, we’ll clearly explain the options and provide you with the best possible recovery from your injury.
Check out these key signs that a broken or fractured bone needs surgery:
Are the Bones Pulling Apart?
In order to fix a broken or fractured bone, it needs to be held in position long enough to heal itself. Normally this can be accomplished by carefully aligning the broken bone and wrapping affected limb in a plaster cast. However, in some cases, the bones attempt to pull apart, which prevents the break from healing properly and causes complications.
Does the Bone Break Skin?
When a broken bone breaks the surface of the skin, it is called an “open fracture.” In these situations, the bone needs to be moved back inside the body and realigned through surgery. These types of fractures are particularly serious because they open the wound and the bone itself up to the possibility of infection.
Does the Fracture Involve Joints?
Fractures that involve joints are called intra-articular fractures, and they generally require surgical intervention to correct. These fractures should not be taken lightly, as they often result in long-term complications. Joints are meant to fit together neatly, so they don’t rub or grind when you move. A fracture that damages a joint could potentially leave the surfaces uneven and cause them to grind on one another.
Are the Bones Displaced?
When a bone breaks and the two ends of the broken bone become significantly misaligned, it is called a displaced fracture. When the bone is broken into many pieces, it is referred to as a comminuted fracture. These fractures are complex and cannot be healed with a cast alone. Surgery is required to piece the bones back together so they can heal properly. Comminuted fractures can happen to any bone, but they are most common in the elbow, wrists and legs.
If you or your family member has a serious injury and you’re worried the bone may be broken or fractured, the experts at Orthopedic Institute are here to help, so make an appointment or stop by our walk-in-clinic for a physician consult.