Emergency Care

iCare – Fractures / Broken Bones – ER Services Page

Bones are durable and can handle the pressure of daily living. But if the pressure is too much for the bone to handle, then a fracture or break might occur.

While many broken bones are often caused by trauma (such as a sports injury, car accident, or fall), fractures can also occur due to ongoing stress placed on the bone. For example, overuse of the bone due to repetitive motion can result in a stress fracture because of the consistent pressure applied. Osteoporosis is another cause of broken bones and fractures since the bones are weakened and more prone to injury.

Types of Fractures/Breaks

Any time a bone is broken, it is called a “fracture.” Doctors use a variety of classifications for the types of fractures that can occur:

  • Hairline Fracture: Also known as a stress fracture. The bone is cracked, but it didn’t break all the way through.
  • Stable Fracture: The pieces of bone are mostly in the correct place, and the pieces line up.
  • Displaced Fracture: The pieces of bone are out of place and do not line up.
  • Oblique Fracture: The break happens in an angle across the bone.
  • Transverse Fracture: The break happens horizontally across the bone.
  • Complete Fracture: The bone is broken into two separate pieces.
  • Comminuted Fracture: The bone is broken into three or more pieces, or a crush damages the bone.
  • Open Fracture: Also known as a compound fracture. One or more pieces of the bone pierce through the skin, sometimes sticking out of the skin.

An x-ray is needed to determine the type of break that occurred. This imaging is important for the doctor to determine the extent of the injury and optimal treatment for recovery.

How to Tell If a Bone is Broken

Sometimes it is hard to tell the difference between a break and a sprain. Here are some of the common symptoms that a bone is broken:

  • Tenderness or pain
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Deformity
  • Difficulty bearing weight
  • Difficulty moving the injured area
  • Hearing a grinding noise or snap when the injury occurred

Treatment for Broken Bones and Fractures

In most situations, broken bones are just minor inconveniences and will heal in a few weeks with proper treatment. Severe breaks might require more treatment, such as surgery, lengthy healing time, and rehabilitation

For a bone to heal, the pieces need to be put back together and held in position during the recovery time. For a small fracture, it is simple to keep that part of the body immobilized. If the bone has broken into multiple pieces, then surgery might be necessary.

These are the most common types of treatment options:

  • Cast: A hard cast can be created using fiberglass or plaster. Sometimes, soft casts are used before or after surgery; then, a hard cast is placed after the swelling goes down. In some cases, a removable boot or splint is used to immobilize the bones while still giving the person the option to take it off for showering as needed.
  • Traction: If the bones need to be repositioned, then a gentle pulling motion can be used.
  • External Hardware: Screws or pins can be connected to the bone pieces, with the hardware connected to a metal bar that is placed on the outside of the skin. The hardware is removed when the bone is healed.
  • Internal Hardware: The skin is cut open so the broken bone can be accessed. The surgeon repositions the bone pieces, which are then held together using screws, pins, or plates. This hardware can sometimes be left indefinitely, although some people choose to remove the hardware when the healing is finished.

When to Go to the ER for a Broken Bone

If you think there is a possibility that a bone might be broken, then don’t hesitate to talk to a doctor about diagnosis and treatment. Immediate treatment improves healing and recovery. In the ER, diagnosis tests are completed to determine the type of fracture. Then, various treatment options are available to help with healing. Additionally, medication can be provided to relieve the pain.

Don’t delay treatment if you have a broken bone. Visit us at iCare ER and Urgent Care as soon as possible. We provide emergency medical treatments 24/7 and also have an urgent care center for patients who don’t need to be in the ER. Call ahead, or walk-ins are welcome: (214) 407-8668.

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