Orthopedic trauma surgery is a specialized branch of orthopedic surgery that is concerned with the handling of acute traumatic injuries, which can result from sports activities, accidents, and more. The training of an orthopedic trauma surgeon always includes fracture care. They can handle all types of fractures, dislocations, soft tissue injuries, and joint injuries, some of which can be severe and require immediate care.
Let’s talk more about these injuries and how they are treated by orthopedic trauma surgeons.
Injuries Treated by Orthopedic Trauma Surgeons
Some of the trauma and fracture injuries orthopedic surgeons frequently treat include:
Complex, Non-Healing Fractures
Complex fractures are those that involve multiple bone fragments or have associated injuries to surrounding tissues. Non-healing fractures, also known as non-unions, refer to fractures that do not heal properly despite appropriate treatment.
Fractures with Deformity/Angulation
Fractures with deformity or angulation occur when the fractured bones are not aligned properly, resulting in a visible misalignment or angular deviation.
Arm, Hand, and Wrist or Foot and Ankle Fractures
Upper extremity and lower extremity fractures require specialized care due to their complex anatomy and smaller bone surface area.
Hip fractures usually occur in the proximal part of the femur or thigh bone near the hip joint. These fractures are more common in older individuals with weakened bones, often due to osteoporosis. Hip fractures are almost always complicated and require immediate, specialized treatment.
Femur (Thigh Bone) Fractures
Fractures of the femur can occur anywhere along its length. These fractures can be classified as shaft fractures or fractures near the hip or knee joints.
Tibia and Fibula (Lower Leg Bones) Fractures
Fractures of the tibia and fibula can involve the shaft, near the knee or ankle joints, or both bones simultaneously.
How Are Orthopedic Trauma Injuries Treated?
Treatments in orthopedic trauma surgery can vary depending on the specific injury and its severity. While surgical intervention may be required for more serious injuries, non-surgical treatments can also be effective for certain traumatic injuries.
Here are some common treatments used in orthopedic trauma care:
In cases where surgical intervention is necessary, orthopedic trauma surgeons may perform procedures such as open reduction/internal fixation (ORIF), closed reduction/percutaneous pinning, or external fixation.
Orthopedic trauma surgery aims to do the following:
- Realign fractured bones
- Stabilize joints
- Repair damaged ligaments or tendons
- Address other soft tissue injuries
The orthopedic surgeon may use any of the following techniques during surgery:
Open Reduction and Internal Fixation (ORIF)
This procedure involves making an incision at the site of the fracture to directly visualize and realign the broken bone fragments. Internal fixation devices such as screws and plates are then used to stabilize the fracture and promote proper healing.
In cases where the fracture can be manipulated into alignment without the need for surgery, a closed reduction may be performed. This involves using manual techniques or traction to realign the bone fragments without making an incision.
This technique involves the use of pins or screws, which are placed into the bone on either side of the fracture. These pins or screws are connected to an external frame outside the body to stabilize the fracture and maintain proper alignment during the healing process. External fixation is often used initially for severe fractures with significant soft tissue damage or when internal fixation is not feasible.
This technique involves inserting a metal rod or nail into the medullary canal (the hollow center) of a long bone, such as the femur or tibia. The nail provides stabilization and support to the fractured bone, allowing for proper healing.
In cases where stable fixation is required, metal plates are placed on the surface of the bone and secured with screws. The plate helps align the fractured bone and provides stability while the bone heals.
In situations where there is a significant loss of bone or if the fracture does not heal properly, bone grafting may be necessary. This involves taking bone from another part of the body, typically the hip, or a donor source, and transplanting it to the site of the fracture to promote healing and stimulate bone growth.
Non-surgical treatments can also be effective for certain orthopedic trauma injuries and focus on supporting the patient’s healing.
Some of the treatments include:
- Physical therapy
- Supportive braces or casts
- Traction or splinting
Orthopedic Trauma Surgeon in Johnson City, Kingsport, & Bristol, TN
The highly skilled orthopedic team at Watauga Orthopaedics provides advanced bone and joint care for patients with fractures and other orthopedic injuries. Our orthopedic surgeons can treat your injury with a high level of precision and start you on your recovery. For years, our physicians have worked in two level 1 trauma centers in the Tri-Cities, so you will be in expert hands.
To schedule an appointment with one of the doctors at Watauga Orthopaedics, call our office today at (423) 282-9011 or use our online request form. We look forward to providing you with the best in trauma and fracture care in northeast Tennessee and southwest Virginia.