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Acute Management of Fractures

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Injured patient showing doctor broken wrist and arm

Fractures can occur in any bone of the body, causing pain, swelling, and immobility. Fractures can occur in people of all ages due to slip-and-fall incidents, car accidents, sports injuries, and any other traumatic impact. A fracture of any kind requires immediate medical attention to determine the extent of the injury and rule out the possibility of any other underlying problems, such as internal bleeding. In most cases, acute fractures can be managed and treated at a local urgent care center without the need for surgery or highly invasive treatment.

If  you suspect…

you may have a fracture or break, do not attempt to reset or straighten the bone yourself. Doing so could make the injury even worse. Instead, take steps to immobilize the affected limb using either a splint and bandage or a sling. Apply ice to the injury to control swelling and help manage pain until you are able to get to your nearest urgent care center.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know if I need acute fracture care?

The only way to know for sure if you have a fractured bone is by getting an x-ray, MRI, bone scan, or some other diagnostic imaging test. However, there are some signs of fracture that signal the need for urgent care. They include visible deformity, pain that worsens under pressure, swelling, bruising, or loss of limb function.

What should I expect the doctor to do about my bone fracture?

Fracture treatment will depend on the extent of your injury and its location. Collarbone and rib fractures, for example, often heal on their own with rest and immobilization. Fractures to the limbs, however, may need to be set into place before being immobilized with a cast. You may be sent home with medication to help manage pain.

How long will it take the fracture to heal?

If you have a cast, you will need to wear it for several weeks while the bone heals. Smaller bones heal faster than larger ones, and people with simple fractures have a shorter recovery than those with compound fractures. The amount of time it takes you to make a complete recovery will also depend on your age. Most adults require about 6 weeks healing time for small bones and up to 3 months for larger bones. Children tend to heal faster than adults, taking only 4 weeks to recover from a simple fracture.

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