In the United States, over 6 million individuals experience a fracture each year. A fracture is not something that anyone enjoys dealing with since it can put your life on hold and significantly impact your day-to-day activities, but if you do break a bone, it is very important that, along with your initial treatment, you also ensure that you heal properly and find a trusted specialist to put you on the best path to recovery. Fractures sometimes require longer-term treatments such as physical therapy to fully heal, and it is important that you follow through with the recommended aftercare for your injury.
Physical therapy can be a vital part of recovery after a fracture to ensure that your broken bone heals completely and properly. Following a physical therapy program will help you get back to your normal activity level as soon as possible while also helping you to do it safely.
We welcome you to reach out to AICA in Snellville to ensure that you receive a proper exam for any fractures that you experience and also that you receive all necessary treatment, including physical therapy.
What Causes a Fracture?
A fracture is a break of any size in a bone. Symptoms of a fracture include pain, swelling, tenderness, bruising, deformity, and decreased range of motion. Fractures are typically caused by trauma to the bone, often from a fall or a car accident. These traumatic incidents put pressure on the bone, causing it to break. Fractures can also be caused by dislocations, overuse, crush injuries, sports injuries, and conditions such as osteoporosis.
A dislocation is an injury that occurs when one of the bones that makes up a joint is forced out of its normal position. This causes the joint to no longer be able to move properly, and it may appear swollen or deformed. Dislocations often occur in the elbows, shoulders, knees, hips, and ankles since these joints are prone to injuries from traumatic events such as slips and falls, car accidents, and sports injuries. A fracture can sometimes occur along with a dislocation.
Sometimes fractures can occur as a result of overuse or repetitive force from activities, including running or repeatedly jumping up and down. This type of fracture is commonly referred to as a stress fracture. Stress fractures can also occur from the normal use of a bone that is weakened by a condition such as osteoporosis. This type of fracture often occurs in the weight-bearing bones in the leg or foot.
A crush injury occurs when force or pressure is put on a body part and is most often caused by a body part being squeezed between two heavy objects. In addition to a fracture, a crush injury can also cause bleeding, bruising, laceration, nerve injury, and infection. Crush injuries are often more extensive than typical bone breaks, and they may cause several broken bones or soft tissue damage in some instances.
Sports injuries can cause both stress fractures and fractures due to trauma. Stress fractures in sports are commonly seen in athletes whose sports require repetitive movements, such as marathon runners. Fractures in contact sports such as football, rugby, and basketball are also common. In sports, the most commonly fractured bones include the wrist, hands, collarbone, feet, ankles, and long bones in the lower extremities.
Osteoporosis is a condition that causes the bones to become weak and brittle. This condition occurs when the creation of new bone does not keep up with the loss of old bone. Osteoporosis can sometimes lead to bone fractures from extremely mild stresses on the bones, such as coughing or bending over. Often there are no symptoms in the early stages of osteoporosis, but once the bones have been weakened, symptoms may include back pain, a stooped posture, loss of height over time, and bones that break much easier than normal. Fractures due to osteoporosis most commonly occur in the hip, wrists, and spine.
What Are the Symptoms of a Fracture?
Symptoms of a fracture may vary depending on the specific type, location, and cause of the break, but some of the common symptoms of a broken bone include pain, swelling, numbness or a tingling sensation, deformity, reduced range of motion, and bruising or redness in the injured area. Additionally, the injured area may also feel tender or warm. In the instance of an open fracture, you may be able to see the bone from the skin since there is an open wound or break near the site of the broken bone caused by a fragment of the bone breaking through the skin.
In cases of a severe fracture, you may feel faint, dizzy, or sick as a result of shock from breaking the bone. If the fracture is mild, you may not feel as much pain as you would expect from a broken bone, and you may not even initially realize that your bone is broken. Symptoms of a broken bone can sometimes resemble other conditions, so it is important to consult a specialist for a proper diagnosis.
How Are Fractures Diagnosed and Treated?
A fracture is diagnosed by examination from a specialist and from imaging tests such as an x-ray, CT scan, MRI, or bone scan. In some instances, after a fracture diagnosis has been made, there may be additional testing required to determine whether other tissues around the bone have been damaged.
Fractures often require emergency treatment at a hospital, and if you think that you may have a fracture, it is important to get an examination as soon as possible. A fractured bone must be set in place properly and held in that position in order to heal. Setting the bone is often referred to as reduction. In some more severe cases, a fraction may require surgery to perform a reduction, as well as the use of pins, plates, rods, screws, or glue to hold the bone in place.
Once the bone has been set, the fracture is typically immobilized with a cast or splint to help the bone heal and reduce pain caused by the injury. Doctors may also prescribe pain medications to help aid the healing process as well. Once the cast or splint is removed, the area surrounding the fracture is typically stiff for a few weeks due to being immobilized. This stiffness generally disappears within a few weeks. After the cast or splint is removed, it’s important that you begin to use the area again gradually to reduce the risk of re-injury. It may take an extended period of time to regain your normal strength, depending on the fracture. It is also important to work with your specialist to determine the appropriate rehabilitation program for your injury. Many times these rehabilitation programs will include physical therapy to help you regain strength and to get you back to your normal daily activities.
What Is Physical Therapy?
Physical therapy is a treatment that is used for many orthopedic injuries, including fractures. The main goal of physical therapy is to decrease pain in the injured area while also improving mobility and flexibility to help you get back to your normal level of activity. Physical therapy may also be used as a preventative measure to help avoid future injuries and improve your overall quality of life after an injury. Physical therapy can help to prevent the need for surgery, relieve pain, and manage arthritis. It can also be used to help fit a patient for a brace or sling.
A physical therapist is a licensed health professional that has a specific graduate degree in physical therapy and is required to pass both a national and state exam. Physical therapists will evaluate your injury or condition and develop a plan that is specifically designed for you. They work with you to develop a care plan and guide you through exercises and hands-on treatment for your symptoms.
A physical therapist does not take the place of other doctors but instead works with those doctors and other healthcare professionals to develop your specific plan and guide you through treatment to help you heal efficiently and properly. These treatment plans may include exercises or stretches, massages, heat or cold therapy, and other types of rehab. A physical therapist will work with you throughout the duration of your treatment to monitor your progress and make any adjustments if necessary. They may also recommend exercises and stretches for you to do at home between sessions to help you stay on track with your plan.
Our team of physical therapists at AICA Orthopedics in Snellville will determine which treatment is best for your specific injury or condition, along with the rest of your healthcare professionals.
How Can Physical Therapy Help a Fracture?
Fractures are often initially immobilized in order for the bone to heal properly. This immobilization may cause you to lose some mobility in the injured area, making it harder to return to your normal level of activity. Physical therapists will work with you to identify what specifically is causing the mobility issue and help to determine the best path for treatment to ensure that you regain strength and mobility while also still making sure that your fracture heals properly.
Your physical therapist may use manual joint therapy during your recovery along with techniques including ice or heat therapy, stretching exercises, and soft tissue massage. It is also important to make sure to keep up with any at-home exercises or stretches that your physical therapist may recommend in order to stay on track for your recovery. If you had surgery for your fractured bone, you may have surgical scar tissue. Massages focusing on these scars can help to reduce scar adhesions and also to improve mobility, and reduce pain and swelling in the affected area.
After the fracture has begun healing, your physical therapist will focus on strengthening the injured body part to restore mobility and to help prevent future injuries in the impacted area. They may also assist in teaching you how to use any necessary assistive devices, such as crutches for a broken leg or fitting you for a sling for a broken arm.
Physical therapy after a bone fracture will help you recover faster and will help to deal with any damage to your nerves or joints that was caused by your fracture. This type of therapy will enable you to regain your full range of motion after completing your treatment program. Everyone’s fracture is unique, and everyone heals at a different rate. Typically a fracture is healed in about eight weeks, but your rehab timeline will vary depending on the type of fracture you have, your age, and other factors. Your physical therapist will be able to pinpoint your specific timeline and give you an idea of how long your treatment program is expected to last.
Get Treated Today
To determine if you have experienced a fracture, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible after your injury. It is also important to make sure that you choose the right healthcare team for your treatment. At AICA Orthopedics, our specialists have the training and experience to identify, diagnose, and treat your fracture, as well as to provide the physical therapy that is needed to ensure a smooth recovery.
Visit AICA Orthopedics to learn more about how our team of doctors can help you receive a proper diagnosis and provide you with an effective treatment plan for your fracture. Our specialists will talk you through all of your options for your injury, and our doctors will help you determine what treatment will work best for you. We have physical therapists who work alongside our orthopedic surgeons and other specialists to ensure that you receive quality, comprehensive care as you recover. It is important to visit a doctor as soon as possible after a fracture to diagnose any injuries to get started on treatment. Call or visit us online to get started at an AICA Orthopedics location near you.