Discover the tools and techniques we use to treat mild and complex bone fractures.
Fractures need more than a one-size-fits-all treatment approach. No two breaks will ever be the same, and each person’s fracture treatment must be tailored to the injury.
We consider the type of fracture and its location when we create your treatment plan. These are common areas for fractures and how we treat them:
- Hand and wrist fractures: We use internal fixation (metal pins, rods, and screws) for breaks in the small bones of the hand and wrist. This is also effective to treat local damaged nerves and tendons. Your surgeon will partner with a hand therapist to help you regain as much use of your hand and wrist as possible.
- Foot and ankle fractures: Depending on how complex your break or dislocation is, your doctor may recommend external fixation (a stabilizer worn outsize the body), internal fixation, or surgery to help your bones properly heal. Crushed ankles, severe dislocation, and torn ligaments typically benefit from these methods.
- Hip fractures: Our hip fracture patients receive implants and advanced rehabilitation. Our surgeons also proactively evaluate patients with osteoporosis (a disease that weakens the bones) to prevent hip fractures.
Casts and traction
This is perhaps the best-known treatment for broken limbs. We use casts and traction to hold a broken bone in a set position so it heals properly before you attempt to bear weight on it (walk or carry things, for example).
Your doctor may recommend a cast or traction alone, or paired with surgery, depending on the complexity of your fracture:
- Cast: A cast holds a broken bone in proper alignment to prevent it from moving while it heals. Casts are made of plaster or fiberglass. Different types of casts and splints are available for specific types of fractures. For some broken bones, a functional cast or brace may be used to allow for limited movement.
- Traction: Traction uses a gentle pulling force to align a bone or bones. The force comes from a metal pin inserted into the bone.
Surgery for broken bones
Complex fractures may require surgery. We only operate if your doctor feels it’s the best option to realign your bones and restore normal function, strength, and feeling in the affected area. Fracture surgeries we perform include:
- Internal fixation: Pieces of broken bone are aligned and held together with pins or screws, which are connected to a metal plate attached to the surface of the bone. Our surgeons are specially trained to use intramedullary nails, which are inserted through the bone marrow to hold bone fragments together.
- External fixation: We use this technique for complex breaks. Our doctors insert pins or screws in the bone through the skin and connect them to a metal bar outside the skin. The metal bar holds the bones in place, and we remove it once the bone heals.
- Ilizarov technique: In this less-invasive external fixation technique, we use a set of rings, rods, and wires called an Ilizarov apparatus -- named after Dr. Gavril Abramovich Ilizarov, the surgeon who developed the system -- to keep the fractured bone fragments in place. The apparatus stabilizes and supports the affected limb but allows you to remain mobile as the bone heals. The technique also increases blood flow to promote bone healing and prevent infection. In fact, we use the Ilizarov technique to treat bone infection, as well as leg-length discrepancies and malunion fractures, which are fractures that have healed, but not correctly.