Orthopedic trauma is treated depending on its severity. Those who have minor injuries such as fractures can be easily treated by general orthopedists, although in some cases, the expertise of fracture specialists may become necessary. However, some types of trauma such as multiple broken bones and fractures in sensitive locations such as near the joints or affecting the pelvis may require trauma specialists. Orthopedic trauma uses both surgical and non-surgical techniques to treat the affected bones and soft tissues.
Minor fractures and dislocations of specific bones such as the scapula, humerus, and clavicle, among others, can be treated non-surgically through an external fixation method. This means that orthopedic devices such as casts, braces, and splints are placed outside the body to keep the injured part stable during the recovery period. The following procedures are reserved for more severe injuries and may be done either conventionally or through minimally invasive techniques.
Orthopedic trauma is usually followed by a long recovery period, depending on the severity of the injury and the affected body part. The shortest recovery period is usually three weeks for minor injuries. Arm or wrist injuries, as well as a fractured collarbone, may take 6 to 8 weeks to heal, while ankle injuries may take up to 6 weeks. There are also cases in which the bone fails to heal, leaving a permanent injury.
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However, the healing time tend to be shorter in children, whose bones heal more quickly. Most patients recovering from orthopedic trauma are advised to undergo a post-treatment program to avoid joint or muscle atrophy, which may occur as a result of long periods of inactivity. Among all types of orthopedic trauma, one of the longest to heal is a broken hip, which is especially dangerous for the elderly. Many individuals find it difficult to regain their original condition after suffering a fracture in the hip bone, and studies show that there is a 1 out of 3 fatality rate within 12 months post-injury among people who experience hip fractures; in many cases, the death is caused by a pre-existing illness that may or may not have been aggravated by the injury.
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Common issues in orthopedics. In: Rakel RE, ed. Textbook of Family Medicine. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; chap Musculoskeletal disorders. Essentials of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Our goal is to give you access to powerful and credible information that is not available anywhere else.
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