Orthopaedic trauma conditions include fractures and dislocations as well as soft tissue injuries caused by traumatic events. Patients of all ages can experience trauma and fractures. Common orthopaedic traumatic injuries include hand and upper extremity injuries, foot and ankle injuries, femoral and tibial shaft fractures, among many others.
Bone fractures are extremely common, whether from high-energy trauma resulting in multiple injuries or from some other force or impact resulting in an isolated fracture and dislocation.
Trauma could be associated with soft tissue injury to the joints such as ligament injury or cartilage damage.
Symptoms of a fracture or a post-traumatic orthopaedic condition can include:
A clearly misshapen/deformed limb or joint, sometimes accompanied by broken skin or visible bone (an open or compound fracture)
- Pain, ranging from mild to severe
- Restricted movement
- Swelling, bruising, tenderness, or numbness near the fracture
Fractures and post-traumatic orthopaedic conditions are typically diagnosed with a combination of physical examination and imaging.
Fractures are usually diagnosed using X-rays. Depending on the severity and location of the break or post-traumatic injury – and the extent of damage to surrounding tissue – other types of imaging might also be used to make a diagnosis.
- Computed tomography (CT)
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
Treatments for Trauma and Fractures
Fractures of the upper and lower extremities, and post-traumatic orthopaedic conditions can be treated with nonsurgical and surgical procedures, depending on the condition.
Common nonsurgical treatments include:
- Immobilizing devices such as casts, splints, braces, and traction
- Medications, such as antibiotics to resolve infections and painkillers to treat pain
- Physiotherapy and rehabilitation
Surgery is sometimes necessary to properly treat breaks or trauma injuries that are complicated, displaced, severe, or resistant to healing. Surgical treatments include fixating (keeping together) the broken parts of the bone using metal pins, screws and plates depending on the type of fracture. Open fractures require Intravenous antibiotics, cleaning of the wound and removing any debris +- stabilisation of the fracture.