Fractures are not uncommon occurrences, especially for those heavily involved in sports. During fractures, the bone breaks either completely or partially. In addition to falls and injuries, an overuse or repetitive motions can also cause stress fractures. The symptoms of fractures generally boil down to pain, swelling, bruising and difficulty moving the afflicted area. Fractures should not be taken lightly as they can lead to a decline in quality of life and if left untreated, such conditions may worsen. In this article, we take a look at some of the common areas in the body where fractures occur, how they are diagnosed and how orthopaedic surgeons in Singapore provide treatment.
Fractures can come in different types, from hairline fractures that result in a thin partial fracture of the bone to impacted fractures where a piece of a fractured bone impacts another bone. Depending on the activity performed, fractures can happen in almost any part of the body. Common areas include the wrist, ankle and children may also be at risk of paediatric fractures.
Wrist fractures involve the breaking of one of the small bones in the joint or the distal radius, which makes up the forearm. They are more likely to occur when participating in sports that require more wrist joint movements such as badminton or tennis. The elderly with low bone density may also be more susceptible to sustaining wrist fracture injuries.
Ankle fractures can have a huge range in severity. Patients may find themselves still able to walk from a simple break in one bone. On the other hand, several fractures require a few months of rest as weight should not be placed on the injured ankle during recovery. Ankle fractures may also cause the ankle ligaments to be damaged as well.
Children experience fractures differently from adults as their bones are still developing. This is also known as paediatric fractures and 1 in 3 children sustain fractures in their lifetime. When the force applied is greater than what the bone can handle, paediatric fractures may occur.
When it comes to fractures, diagnosis is usually carried out through X-rays or scans. X-rays can come in the form of radiography or fluoroscopy X-ray. Radiography uses the smallest amount of radiation to assess broken bones, teeth and chest. Fluoroscopy uses more radiation than radiography and allows the orthopaedic surgeon to take snapshots and evaluate the patient in real-time.
With regards to scans to diagnose fractures, a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan or a computerised tomography (CT) scan may be used. An MRI scan creates detailed images of organs and tissues within the body using a strong magnetic field and radio waves. In most cases, the patient is positioned on a table in the middle of a large tube. Unlike CT scans, MRI scans do not use potentially harmful ionising radiation. In contrast, CT X-rays use large amounts of radiation as a large number of images are taken in one sitting. A beam of X-rays passes through the patient and onto several detectors. With CT scans, your orthopaedic surgeon can observe hundreds of different levels of density and tissues.
Ultimately, the treatment options available are based on the seriousness of your fracture. In milder situations, splints or cast applications may suffice, but in more severe cases, surgery may be required to fix displaced bones.
Splints help to support and protect a broken bone or injury. They reduce pain and promote healing by keeping the injured part of your body still. Some splints are flexible, while others are rigid. Talking to your orthopaedic surgeon, understanding your condition and choosing the right kind of splint for your injuries is key to a speedy recovery.
Similar to splints, casts also support and protect your damaged ligaments. However, they offer more support as compared to splints. Unlike casts, splints are not wrapped around the injury and are instead, secured with an elastic bandage or other material. Should there be heavy swelling, a splint may be applied first, followed by a cast to prevent loosening of the cast when the swelling subsides.
When splints and casts are insufficient to mend broken bones, bone fracture surgical repair may be the next course of action. Internal fixation is one of the most common types of fracture surgery, in which broken bone pieces are repositioned using surgical screws, pins, rods, and plates. It allows for shorter hospital stays, promotes quicker recovery and reduces the likelihood of improper hearing and recurrences of similar injuries.
Bone healing is natural, which is why most treatments centre around providing the best circumstance for the bone to heal. Once the fracture has been reduced, the healing process can begin. During this time it is important to strictly adhere to the advice of your orthopaedic surgeon for a smooth recovery journey.
At Orthopaedic Specialist Centre, we provide a variety of treatment options for fractures and other orthopaedic conditions. Feel free to contact us today for more information.