Fractures

Fractures Specialist
Dr. David Christensen provides effective treatments for fractures from his practice, Intermountain Spine and Orthopaedics, located in Twin Falls and Southeast Idaho.

Fractures Q & A

by David M. Christensen, MD

How Are Bone Fractures Treated?

Fracture care is an in-depth area of orthopaedics that addresses each stage of recovery following a bone fracture. The initial stage of fracture care involves emergency care for the injury, diagnosis, setting, and splinting the bone. While most bone fractures don’t require surgery, they still need special attention and care to ensure the bone heals correctly. Surgical fracture care is complex and can involve post-operative care including external hardware, traction, slings, and extensive physical and occupational therapy after the bone has set. Most fractures require some form of physical or occupational therapy after the bone has fused back together. Dr. Christensen provides customized care to each patient, beginning with emergency care through to rehabilitation. The types of treatment and therapy needed are determined by the severity of the fracture the patient has sustained.

How Can I Tell if I’ve Fractured a Bone?

Most bone fractures don’t break the skin so it isn’t always visually apparent that you’ve broken a bone. Fractures often occur after accidents such as falling or being hit with an object. The 3 most common symptoms that indicate a broken bone include severe pain, swelling, and deformity. In some cases, you may hear a snap or grinding noise when the bone breaks. It is common to feel pain when weight is put on the injury or when it is touched or moved. Often, patients also experience faintness, dizziness or nausea when a bone is broken. If you think you have broken a bone, it is essential to seek care as soon as possible. The more quickly you receive treatment the sooner you will be out of pain and on your way to recovery.

What Are Different Treatments for Bone Fractures?

Depending on the kind of fracture and dislocation, patients may have a broken bone and surrounding area immobilized initially with a cast. Casts are the most common treatment for broken bones as a cast holds the bones in place while the bone tissue reknits. In situations where some mobility is allowed or necessary, the patient may be fitted with a functional cast or brace to allow a controlled or limited range of motion. When the fracture is severe, traction may be necessary to gently pull the bones into correct alignment during the healing process. Dr. Christensen may also use external fixation which uses metal pins or screws attached to both the bone and a metal frame outside of the body to hold the bones in place while the bones heal. Some fractures also require surgical repair or fixation, in order to bring the broken bones into proper alignment and hold them there while they heal.  This entails making an incision, reducing or aligning all of the fracture pieces, then placing small plates and screws onto the bone to hold it in place so that it can heal properly.  The incision is then closed and the patient is cared for until the fracture is healed and stable and functional recovery has returned.

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