Identifying Potential Fractures

Identifying potential fractures

There are 206 bones in the human body. And these bones run the risk of breaking any time we have an injury. This doesn’t happen most of the time, but when fractures do occur, they can prove to be very serious emergencies. This is why it is important to understand the warning signs of a fracture, how they are diagnosed, & treated.
If you have recently sustained an injury, there are certain signs/symptoms to watch out for.

These include:

  • severe pain
  • deformed bone
  • bruising & swelling of the injured site
  • loss of function
  • neurological symptoms

Regarding first aid for fractures, please:

  • Do not move the patient for suspected fractures of head, neck, back, or hip (Please call 911).
  • Control bleeding with gentle pressure.
  • For other types of fractures, try not to manipulate the bone. Please try to immobilize the area by making a temporary splint. A splint can be made by using a rigid material (metal, wood, plastic) & applying it to the extremity with gauze.
  • Please apply ice to reduce swelling for all fractures.
  • For open fractures, please rinse the wound gently in order to remove dirt & debris & cover it with a clean cloth.

If you are concerned about a fracture, you should seek medical care as soon as possible. Not all broken bones are medical emergencies, but if you are experiencing any symptoms of pain or swelling after an injury, it is best that a medical professional evaluate you.

For cases where the fractures are open, there is severe bleeding, cyanosis is present, or the fracture involves the head, neck, upper leg, or hip, it is best to go to the ER right away. For all other injuries & possible fractures, you can go to any urgent or ambulatory care service centers.  Some examples of excellent urgent care centers are: The Medical Access Clinics in Germantown, MD, Alexandria, VA, & Woodbridge, VA. You will receive immediate attention & care from qualified medical practitioners.

After examining you, our providers will most likely take an x-ray in order to assess for a fracture. Xrays are waves of electromagnetic energy that passes through our bodies & create images of various structures that can be seen on film. Diagnostic x-rays are excellent for diagnosing fractures (most of the time). There are cases where additional imaging is needed for further investigation. A few examples of such fractures include scaphoid, stress, rib, & clavicular fractures.

Even though there are so many different imaging modalities that can be used, simple X-rays are generally the best initial evaluations recommended. This is because X-rays are fast, easy, require no special preparation, & the radiation exposure is very low. The urgent care providers read the X-rays initially but the films are also sent to the radiologists for official interpretations.

Some fractures can be treated with a temporary splint application. However, more severe fractures require casting & even surgical correction. If the fracture is complex, the providers will stabilize your injury & refer you to the appropriate specialist (usually an orthopedic surgeon or sports medicine physician) for further management. You will also be asked to follow up with the urgent care providers for continuity of care.

Overall, fractures & various musculoskeletal injuries are significant but also among the top 10 common reasons why patient visit urgent care centers. It is not always necessary to go to emergency rooms for fracture care, when most urgent care centers are trained to handle these cases.