Broken Bone? What’s Next?

Close to 2 million fractures happen yearly. Surgery is often the first thing that comes to mind when a bone breaks. While fractures can often be painful, most can be treated non-surgically with the right approach. This technique helps patients return to normal activities quickly and reduces the risk of complications associated with surgery. A doctor will assess the fracture to determine if the patient is a suitable candidate.

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What is closed reduction?

When a patient wants to avoid surgery, a closed reduction may be the best option. This medical procedure resets broken bones, restoring a natural alignment. The process can also treat dislocated joints, such as those in the shoulder, elbow, wrist, hip, and ankle. The closed reduction procedure involves putting the broken or displaced bone back into the normal anatomical position without making an incision through the skin. The closed reduction procedure requires a trained professional at a hospital or surgical center to avoid complications.

Repairing a broken bone

During a closed reduction procedure, the bone is viewed using an x-ray or other imaging devices to assess the damage. Once the doctor confirms closed reduction can work, the procedure begins. Local anesthesia will usually be administered to decrease any pain. First, traction or gentle pressure is applied to move the bone back into place. Different techniques exist for different joints and limbs, and the doctor will use the most appropriate option. Once in place, the doctor applies a cast or splint to keep the bone in position. Another x-ray should confirm the bone is in the correct position. The bone’s natural growth will promote healing over time.

Benefits of closed reduction

When a fracture occurs, closed reduction at the bedside is a recognized method for treating affected bones. This technique allows for manual manipulation of the fracture site, restoring bone alignment and stability. Closed reduction is an effective method for reducing pain quickly and restoring functionality in certain fractures. The procedure is also cost-effective and relatively safe. After recovery, patients have less pain and swelling, fewer infections, and a robust, mobile joint.

Who is the best candidate?

To be considered for a closed reduction, the patient should not have an open fracture. With open fractures, the bone pierces or penetrates the skin. In this case, the surgeon must perform open reduction and internal fixation (ORIF), which involves pins and screws. The best candidate for a closed procedure generally has 1 clean break in a single position. There should also be no evidence of severe muscle or tissue damage or infection.

Back together again

Closed reduction at the bedside is an effective and safe way to treat some fractures. The procedure requires minimal resources and is non-invasive, allowing the patient to leave the hospital on the same day. The best candidates have minor fractures, dislocations, or a single, clean break observed on an x-ray. Closed reduction is possible once the patient sees a doctor as quickly as possible.

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