Brent Carlson, MD Orthopedic Surgeon
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Patient Education

Fractures & Trauma


A fracture and a broken bone are the same thing. A bone may fracture completely or partially. It may fracture into two pieces or several pieces and the fracture may be located in the midshaft or it may extend to the end of the bone and into a joint. Thinning of the bone due to osteoporosis in the elderly can cause the bone to break easily. Overuse injuries are common cause of stress fractures in athletes.


The objective of early fracture management is to control bleeding, prevent ischemic injury (bone death) and to remove sources of infection such as foreign bodies and dead tissues. The next step in fracture management is the realignment of the fracture and its maintenance. It is important to ensure that the fracture remains in good alignment after the fracture heals. To achieve this, the maintenance of alignment is done either non-surgically or surgically depending on several factors. Nonoperative treatment involves the use of splints or casts after the fracture has been realigned.


  • Open Reduction and Internal Fixation (ORIF)

    This is a surgical procedure in which the fracture site is adequately exposed and reduction of fracture is done. Internal fixation is done with devices such as Kirschner wires, plates and screws, and intramedullary nails.

  • External fixation

    External fixation is a procedure in which the fracture stabilization is done at a distance from the site of fracture. It helps to maintain bone length and alignment without casting.


Trauma is any injury caused during physical activity, motor vehicle accidents, or other activities. Sports trauma can result from accidents, inadequate training, improper use of protective devices, or insufficient stretching or warm-up exercises. The most common sports injuries are sprains and strains, fractures, and dislocations.

The most common treatment recommended for injury is rest, ice, compression and elevation (RICE).

  • Rest: Avoid activities that may cause injury
  • Ice: Ice packs can be applied to the injured area which will help to diminish swelling and pain.  Ice should be applied over a towel to the affected area for 15-20 minutes four times a day for several days.  Never place ice directly over the skin
  • Compression: Compression of the injured area helps to reduce swelling. Elastic wraps, air casts, and splints can accomplish this
  • Elevation: Elevate the injured part above heart level to reduce swelling and pain

Your doctor may recommend other treatments to help your injury heal. These include:

  • Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs
  • Immobilization
  • Rehabilitation
  • Surgery

Click the desired links below to find out more from American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons AAOS website.


Arm, Elbow

Wrist & Finger

Knee & Leg


Foot & Ankle

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