Mending Broken Bones

Fracture care – the treatment of broken bones – is a fundamental specialty of Rocky Mountain Orthopaedic Associates. A bone may be completely fractured or partially fractured in any number of ways, its treatment requiring the specialized training and experience of an orthopaedist. We are the sole provider of adult and pediatric fracture care at St. Mary’s Hospital Level 2 Trauma Center. Our team is led by two fellowship-trained Orthopaedic Trauma Surgeons, a Pediatric Orthopaedic Surgeon, as well as all the other orthopaedic subspecialists. Each year at St Mary’s our specialists manage nearly 1,500 patients. These include all the high energy recreational and highway injuries from the entire Western Slope of Colorado and Southeastern Utah.

The three common causes of fractures are:

  • Trauma. Motor vehicle accidents, falls, sports injuries, and the like account for most fractures.
  • Osteoporosis. Individuals with osteoporosis, a disease that results in the “thinning” of the bone, are susceptible to fractures because their bones are more fragile.
  • Overuse. Sometimes, simply overusing a limb can result in stress fractures. These are common among athletes.

Types of fractures:

  • Closed or simple fracture. The bone is broken, but the skin is not lacerated.
  • Open or compound fracture. The skin may be pierced by the bone or by a blow that breaks the skin at the time of the fracture. The bone may or may not be visible in the wound.
  • Transverse fracture. The fracture is at right angles to the long axis of the bone.
  • Greenstick fracture. Fracture on one side of the bone, causing a bend on the other side of the bone.
  • Comminuted fracture. A fracture that results in three or more bone fragments.

Treatment for fractures:

Your orthopaedist will use a cast, splint other external device to hold the bone in the correct position while the fracture heals. Depending on the type and severity of your fracture, internal fixation methods may also be used to hold the broken pieces of bone in the proper position. These include metal plates, pins or screws.

Recovery & Rehabilitation:

Depending on the extent of your injury, a fracture can take several weeks to several months to heal. The pain usually stops long before it has healed enough for you to resume normal activity, and even after your cast or brace is removed you may need to continue to limit your activity until the fracture is solid enough to handle the stresses of normal use. You will also lose some muscle strength during the healing period because they haven’t been used. Your ligaments may also tighten up and become stiff from not using them. A period of rehabilitation involving stretching and exercise will be necessary before those tissues perform normally and the healing process is complete.