Setting Broken Bones

Broken bones can range from common mishaps in childhood to extremely complex, joint threatening conditions.

Treatment will vary depending on the type of break, the location and how much additional damage or injury is present.

The first step your doctor will take is to move pieces of the bone back into their correct position. This is called reduction. Depending on the severity of injury, you may need local or general anesthesia.

Treatments for a bone fracture include:

  • Casts or immobilization of the bones. A cast is use to hold broken bones in place so they can't move while they heal. Usually a cast is kept on for two to eight weeks, depending on how serious the break was. Casts will vary in size depending on where the break is, how complex it is and how much is required to keep the limb or joint from moving.

    There are different types of casts including a cam walker and a spica cast.
  • Traction may be needed. Because of the strong muscles that surround long bones such as the thighbone, it may be necessary to put weight on the bone to pull it out to its proper length. Using traction avoids shortening of the limb while the bone heals.
  • Surgery. This involves using plates and screws to keep bones aligned so that they heal in the proper position. Surgery may also be needed if there is more than one break in the bone or if the bone fractured into many small pieces.
  • Physical therapy. Immobilizing the bones also means that the muscles are being exercised while the bone is healing. Rehabilitation and physical therapy may be needed to make the muscles stronger and the joint more flexible and able to move in a wider range of directions after being in a cast.