We start by taking your complete medical history including how the injury happened. We perform a physical exam, and we may use any of these tests to properly diagnose a fracture:
- X-ray. A diagnostic test which uses invisible electromagnetic energy beams to make pictures of internal tissues, bones, and organs on film.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). An imaging test that uses large magnets, radiofrequencies, and a computer to produce detailed pictures of structures within the body.
- Computed tomography scan (CT or CAT scan). This is an imaging test that uses X-rays and a computer to make detailed images of the body. A CT scan shows details of the bones, muscles, fat, and organs.
Results from these tests will also help guide your personalized treatment plan.
A cast or splint is almost always part of a treatment plan. The goal of treatment is to put the pieces of bone back in place, control the pain, give the bone time to heal, prevent complications, and restore normal use of the fractured area. This treatment protocol may include:
- Splint or cast. This immobilizes the injured area to keep the bone in alignment. It protects the injured area from motion or use while the bone heals.
- Medicine. This may be needed to control pain.
- Traction. Traction is the use of a steady pulling action to stretch certain parts of the body in a certain direction. Traction often uses pulleys, strings, weights, and a metal frame attached over or on the bed. The purpose of traction is to stretch the muscles and tendons around the broken bone to help the bone ends to align and heal.
- Surgery. Surgery may be needed to put certain types of broken bones back into place. Occasionally, internal fixation (metal rods or pins located inside the bone) or external fixation devices (metal rods or pins located outside of the body) are used to hold the bone fragments in place while they heal.