Conditions & Treatments

Fractures / Trauma

South County Orthopedic Specialists (SCOS) in Orange County, California offer comprehensive fracture care for traumatic injuries to the skeletal system.  These injuries are common and range from minor non-displaced fractures where the bone is cracked, but is in correct alignment, to severe traumatic fractures of the long bones and joints including the hip, wrist, shoulder, ankle femur, tibia and humerus. These fractures may be displaced, meaning the broken ends are not in alignment, or the bone has broken into pieces, which is called a comminuted fracture.

SCOS is a team of Fellowship Trained orthopedic experts, with each surgeon specializing in a particular joint or body region.  The orthopedic surgeons at SCOS are skilled in treating fracture patients from diagnosis until restoration of normal function with both operative and nonsurgical measures.  Our orthopedic specialists excel at treating fractures of all types, from simple to severe fractures that require fixation, reconstruction or replacement for all ages.

Our principal goal is to restore alignment, and function, and allow our patients to return to their previous activity level.

What is a fracture?

A fracture is a broken bone. It can be completely or partially fractured in various ways depending on the force and type of trauma. The severity of a break will be determined by the amount of force applied. If slight, the bone may crack. If extreme, the bone can shatter.

When the bone protrudes from the skin it is called an open or compound fracture, which is serious because of the risk of infection. When the bone does not protrude through the skin it is called a closed fracture.

What Causes a Fracture?

Force applied to the bone from a fall or direct trauma, that is stronger than the bone, will cause a fracture.  Traumatic fractures often occur from events such as a fall, auto accident or contact sports.  Bones may be weakened by certain conditions such as osteoporosis making them more susceptible to fracture with less severe trauma.  In addition, overuse and repetitive forces like running can cause stress fractures. Stress fractures are hairline cracks in the bone and are common in athletes.

Fracture Symptoms

  • Extreme Pain
  • Limited or total inability to move limb, or walk on the injured hip, leg, foot or ankle without intense pain
  • Swelling, bruising and possibly bleeding
  • Numbness and tingling
  • Deformity of the limb due to the misplaced bone

Diagnosis

Our orthopedists at SCOS Orthopedic Specialists will evaluate each patient based on their specific mechanism of injury.  During an evaluation for a fracture, a patient will receive an examination to determine the extent of injury. X-rays will often provide a clear view of the bones and confirm the fracture. X-rays will also be able to identify the type of fracture and its location.  Additional advanced imaging, such as a CT scan or MRI scan, may be required to help identify, classify or plan treatment.

Treatment

When treating a fracture, it is imperative that the bones remain in the correct position and are held in place while they heal.  A broken bone heals when new bone is formed and binds the broken pieces together.  When a fracture is out of place, it is often necessary for it to be realigned, or reduced, and then held in place with a cast or surgery to place orthopedic hardware, to hold the bones in place.

Some fractures can have serious complications including blood vessel or nerve damage, infection and soft tissue damage.

Closed Reduction

This procedure sets the bones without surgery and allows the bone to grow back together.

The surgeon will reposition the bone by pulling or pushing.  The patient will receive local anesthesia, a nerve block or sedation before manipulation.  After the bone is set, an x-ray will confirm that the bone is in the correct position. Then a splint or cast will be placed on the limb to assure the bone remains in the correct position until it is healed.

At SCOS Orthopedic Specialists, we have a fully staffed cast room with dedicated orthopedic technologists who will ensure a patient’s cast is properly placed and in addition, can provide special cast care instructions and advice.

Open Reduction with Internal Fixation (ORIF)

This is a surgical procedure to fix a severe break. Open surgery, under general or local anesthesia, may be necessary to reposition the bone into proper alignment so that it can heal. Once in proper alignment, the bone pieces are held in the proper position with implants like metal plates and screws, rods and pins. The fixation hardware is designed to stay in the body and typically there is no need to remove it.

Percutaneous Closed Reduction with Fixation

Percutaneous closed reduction with fixation is a surgical procedure that is used to treat fractures by implanting surgical fixation hardware through the skin. The exact technique is determined by the location and type of fracture. Under local or general anesthetic with the aid of imaging technology, the bone will be restored to proper alignment and implants will be placed in the correct location to hold the bone pieces together while they heal. This procedure requires specialized expertise and tools which are available at SCOS. This approach has the advantage of reducing bleeding and infection commonly associated with open surgery, and produces only a small scar.

For patients in Orange County, California with broken bones, the specialists at SCOS offer state of the art surgical techniques including minimally invasive and traditional open surgery for patients of all ages. Our team has over 40 years of experience helping our patients return to their lives.

Our trauma specialists excel at treating acute or chronic fractures, and do so with compassionate and timely intervention to restore function, mobility and quality of life.

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