What is orthopedic trauma and how it can be treated
Orthopedic trauma covers a wide range of injuries, from minor fractures to life-threatening road traffic accidents.
Orthopedic trauma is any injury to the bones or joints caused by an external force. It could be caused by a road accident, collision or a sudden fall. Although not life-threatening, it requires immediate attention. These are common among athletes, road accident victims, or people with weak and brittle bones.
"Any severe injury to the bones, joints, or soft tissue caused by an external force is referred to as orthopedic trauma. These injuries are frequently, but not always, the result of a sudden event, such as a road traffic accident or a fall," says Dr. Yogesh K, Consultant – Orthopedics, Fortis Hospitals, Bannerghatta Road.
Orthopedic trauma covers a wide range of injuries, from minor fractures to life-threatening road traffic accidents. It is mostly caused by falling, automobile accidents, physical violence, sports injuries (basketball and football), natural calamities, among other factors.
"When compared to a healthy young adult, an older adult with osteoporosis - a condition that causes bone loss - is more likely to break the bone when they fall," says Dr Yogesh K.
Symptoms of a fracture or tissue damage:
* Severe swelling
* Sudden and persistent pain
* Cracking or popping sensation during strenuous activity or following a traumatic event
* Deformity of the extremity.
When to see a trauma specialist in orthopedics
While in some cases, one may not even be aware of having a broken bone, in others life-threatening injuries like protruding bones or punctured organs make it important for the patient to rush to the emergency room.
"Multiple breaks, damage to blood vessels, and tearing or rupturing of other tissues can all result from serious accidents. These cases necessitate the involvement of not only a trauma surgeon but also other specialists to address every damaged body system and improve the chances of a full recovery. Orthopedic surgeons are experts in the musculoskeletal system, and some specialize, even more, focusing on just one part of the body, such as the knees, hands, or feet," says Dr Yogesh K.
Even if the trauma isn't life threatening, it still requires immediate treatment.
Treatment options for traumatic injuries
In case of a fracture or a serious soft tissue injury, scans will be ordered right away in order to determine treatment. The injured area is stabilized, and measures to reduce bleeding are taken.
Broken bones are set in place during surgery using a technique known as open reduction and fixation. In open reduction, bones are set through an incision, carefully avoiding the injured areas, and held in place by plates, screws, or rods, to stabilize them as they heal.
Rehabilitation, on the other hand, is frequently started as soon as possible. Too much immobilization can cause more harm than good, so a proper rehab programme is necessary to avoid loss of strength and range of motion.
Nonsurgical treatment options
Non-operative treatment is possible for some fractures and dislocations which are not displaced, particularly those involving the clavicle, scapula, humerus, wrist, hand, and foot, in the form of traction or given a cast, sling, or splint outside of the injury for stability.
Surgical treatment options
Internal fixation is when a doctor performs major surgery on the bone to stabilize it with pins, wires, screws, and plates. While not all fractures require specialized treatment, some complex fractures may require the attention of a trauma specialist. Treatment options include many cutting-edge surgical techniques, such as minimally invasive surgery, advanced external fixation, and the use of bone graft substitutes and bone-forming proteins.
"The amount of time it takes to recover from a fracture is determined by the type and severity of the injury. A bone can take anywhere from three months to several months to fully heal, and in complex cases, the bone may never fully heal. However, the pain gets better before healing is complete," says Dr Yogesh K.
The doctor will prescribe a treatment plan that will gradually restore the fractured bone to its pre-injury state. As one begins their new programme, stiffness and muscle fatigue may be experienced. The lack of activity causes atrophy of the muscles, joints, and ligaments. To avoid re-injury, carefully follow the doctor's instructions.
Every patient needs a tailor made treatment regiment as all injuries are not the same.
(With inputs from Dr. Yogesh K, Consultant – Orthopedics, Fortis Hospitals, Bannerghatta Road)