Our physicians provide emergency orthopedic call services at The University of Kansas Health System St. Francis Campus 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Many of these calls involve the evaluation and management of patients with fractures (broken bones). Fracture care covers the entire spectrum of treatment of simple broken bones to severe life threatening accidents with multiple skeletal injuries.The main goals of fracture treatment are to promote the healing of the broken bone, restore the anatomic alignment of the bone or joint surface, and to return the injured body part to maximum function.
Some fractures and dislocations can be treated without surgery. Depending on the severity of the fracture, your physician may treat the injury non-surgically with the use of splints, casts, braces and other devices on the outside of the injury to stabilize the fracture while it heals.
An internal fixation method of treatment may be chosen when non-surgical treatment is not sufficient to align or stabilize the fracture. Reduction and internal fixation of a fracture is when a physician performs surgery to better align the fracture fragments by placing pins, wires, screws, or plates on the bone to stabilize it. Severe injuries may require more complex surgical procedures including bone grafting, skin grafting and complex limb reconstruction.
The length of recovery for fractures depends on the type and severity of the injury. It can take a few weeks up to several months for a bone to completely heal, and in the worst cases the bone may never heal completely. The good news is that oftentimes the pain from the break will subside dramatically before the bone has completely healed.
You may experience temporary stiffness and muscle fatigue as you recover from your injury. This is caused by atrophy of the muscles, joints and ligaments from lack of activity. You may benefit from working with a physical therapist to assist in your recovery.