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Fracture Treatment Purpose - To reestablish the length, shape, and alignment of the fractured bones or joints and restore anatomic function.
Treatment goals differ depending upon the location of the fracture.
• Upper Extremity Fracture Goal - To preserve mobility and restore range of motion, enabling the individual to perform skilled and delicate work.
• Lower Extremity Fracture Goal - To restore alignment, length, and provide stability of the extremity for weight bearing.
Fracture Treatment Options:
1. Immobilization/cast: A plaster or fiberglass cast is the most common type of fracture treatment, because most broken bones can heal successfully once they have been repositioned and a cast has been applied to keep the broken ends in proper position while they heal.
2. Functional cast/ brace or splint: The cast or brace allows limited or "controlled" movement of nearby joints. This treatment is desirable for some but not all fractures.
3. Traction: Traction is usually used to align a bone or bones by a gentle, steady pulling action. The pulling force may be transmitted to the bone through skin tapes or a metal pin through a bone. Traction may be used as a preliminary treatment, before other forms of treatment.
4. Open Reduction and Internal Fixation: In this type of treatment, an orthopedist must perform surgery on the bone. During this operation, the bone fragments are first repositioned (reduced) into their normal alignment, and then held together with special screws or by attaching metal plates to the outer surface of the bone. The fragments may also be held together by inserting rods down through the marrow space in the center of the bone. These methods of treatment can reposition the fracture fragments very exactly. Because of the risks of surgery, however, and possible complications, such as infection, they are used only when the orthopedic surgeon considers such treatment to be the most likely to restore the broken bone to normal function.
5. External Fixation: In this type of treatment, pins or screws are placed into the broken bone above and below the fracture site. Then the orthopedic surgeon repositions the bone fragments. The pins or screws are connected to a metal bar or bars outside the skin. This device is a stabilizing frame that holds the bones in the proper position so they can heal. After an appropriate period of time, the external fixation device is removed. Each of these treatment methods can lead to a completely healed, well-aligned bone that functions well. Remember that the method of treatment depends on the type and location of the fracture, the seriousness of the injury, the condition, and needs of the patient, and the judgment of the orthopedist and the patient.
Source: American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeon
DID YOU COMPLETE THE READING?
What is the purpose of fracture treatment?
Identify the difference in fracture treatment goals between a lower extremity vs. an upper extremity.
In your own words, describe the difference between internal vs. external fixation.
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