Bone fractures, or "broken bones", affect patients young and old due to a number of reasons. The majority of fractures occur as a result of traumatic events, including car accidents and football tackles. Older patients with bone deficiencies, such as osteoporosis, are at a greater risk of developing fractures, as bones become more brittle and more likely to break. Additionally, athletes and children can fracture a bone by way of overuse injuries, commonly seen in baseball, football, and soccer.
Diagnosing a Traumatic Fracture
Patients usually know immediately after the injury that they have broken a bone. Many patients can hear a snap or cracking sound as a result of the trauma. The area around the fracture will swell, becoming tender and sensitive to the touch. Part of the damaged bone may protrude through and puncture the skin.
Broken bones can be categorized according to the direction of the fracture, as well as the severity of the fracture. Types of fractures include:
- Closed (simple) fracture – the bone is broken but skin is not lacerated
- Open (compound) fracture – Skin may be punctured by the bone, or due to the traumatic event causing the fracture
- Transverse fracture – fracture is at right angle to the long axis of the bone
- Greenstick fracture – one side of the bone is fractured, causing the bone to bow
- Comminuted fracture – a fracture that results in three or more bone fragments
Patients at the greatest risk of fracturing the pelvis are teenagers and older patients. Teenage patients that report pulling a muscle may actually have experienced a pelvic fracture. The hamstring, which attaches to the pelvis, can contract and pull away part of the pelvic bone, causing a fracture. Elderly patients may fall getting out of a bathtub or climbing stairs, causing brittle bones to shatter.
Pelvic fractures will require an orthopaedic surgeon to perform imaging tests to confirm the presence of fracture, as well as determine the extent of the injury. The diagnosis can help guide treatment options, which will vary depending on the type of fracture sustained.
Treatment Options for Traumatic Hip Fractures
Patients with trauma-induced fractures will most likely require surgery due to the associated extensive bleeding. The surgeon will screw into the bones an external fixator, a device that stabilizes the pelvic region, in order to tend to any damage affecting surrounding organs, blood vessels, and nerves.
Traumatic injuries require immediate attention. If you have experienced a traumatic or life-threatening injury, seek treatment immediately by either calling 911 or finding a nearby emergency room.
Proximal Tibia (Shinbone) Fractures
Like other bone fractures, shinbone fractures can occur for a number of reasons, and affect a wide variety of patients. Traumatic events, such as a car accident, can strike the upper portion of the shinbone and cause it to fracture. Low-energy injuries, such as falling down or losing balance, can also cause the shinbone to fracture in older patients with brittle bones.
When traumatic injuries or fractures affect the knee joint, patients may later develop knee arthritis and the associated symptoms. Once a fracture has affected the surfaces of the knee joint, excessive joint wear, instability, and loss of range of motion can follow.
Depending on the patient's needs, fracture care can be performed either surgically or non-surgically. Patients with minor tibial fractures may be able to treat the fracture through non-operative means, such as bracing or wearing a cast to limit mobility.
Traumatic injuries that fracture the tibia should be attended to immediately. For less severe injuries, patients should speak with an orthopaedic surgeon, such as Dr. Craig C. Greene, to determine if surgery is required to treat the pain associated with a proximal tibia fracture.
Trauma Surgeon in Baton Rouge, LA
Dr. Craig Castleman Greene is a board-certified orthopaedic surgeon, fellowship-trained in the treatment of traumatic injuries (traumatology). Dr. Greene treats patients young and old for musculoskeletal conditions including sports injuries, arthritis, and severe trauma. Schedule an appointment with Dr. Greene at his Baton Rouge office, located off Bluebonnet Blvd., to discuss potential treatment options for fractured bones and joint pain today.