Fracture TreatmentBone is constantly in a state of turnover, even when not damaged or injured. We continually absorb and replace the cells that make up our bones. Because of this natural turnover, the process of healing bone also comes about quite naturally.
However, in order for a fracture to heal as well as possible, a good reduction, or placement, of the bones must be attained.
- When doctors talk about reduction or a fracture, or reducing the broken bone, they are talking about improving the alignment of the broken ends of the bone.
One potential complication of fracture treatment is either a mal-union or non-union of bone. This problem is more common in elderly individuals and in people who sustain more severe fractures. In the case of some fractures (e.g. hip fracture in elderly) the rate of non-union is high enough that instead of trying to heal the bone, the damaged segment of bone is replaced (e.g. hip replacement).
The treatment of a specific fracture is too complicated to be discussed in a general overview of broken bones, but depends on factors such as:
- Location of the fracture
- Severity of angulation or deformity
- Potential for healing
- Other injuries
- Age and activity level of the patient
- And many more factors....
The most common cause of fractures is due to trauma. However, especially in the elderly, broken bones often occur where the bone has been weakened by an underlying process. This is called a "pathologic fracture," which means that there is some pathology, or disease process, that caused the bone to be weak and highly susceptible to fracture. Common diseases that lead to pathologic fracture include osteoporosis and tumors.