The Facts About Internal Fixation for Broken Bones

The Facts About Internal Fixation for Broken BonesBreaking a bone might seem like a commonplace occurrence, almost a rite of passage in the grand scheme of life mishaps. We’ve all heard stories or experienced firsthand the clumsy or adventurous escapades that lead to a fracture. However, not all bone breaks are created equal. Some fractures demand a more serious consideration, especially those requiring internal fixation procedures.

These aren’t your run-of-the-mill fractures that the average cast can mend; they delve into the realm of surgical intervention. Fractures requiring internal fixation procedures bring not just physical pain but also a financial burden. From the surgery and hospital stay to the ongoing costs of occupational and physical therapy, to purchasing mobility devices, the bills start stacking up, turning the recovery process into a dual challenge—navigating both physical healing and financial strain. When your severe fracture is caused by someone else’s negligence, such as in a car accident, then a Vancouver, WA personal injury attorney can help to ensure that you are not stuck paying the bills for your injuries.

What is internal fixation?

A typical fracture (such a minor break of your arm when you fall from a tree as a kid) usually only requires to be set and held into place by a cast, but more serious breaks may need surgical intervention. Internal fixation is a type of surgical procedure that involves repositioning bone fragments and securing them with implants like plates, screws, nails, and wires. This technique not only facilitates shorter hospital stays but also promotes an earlier return to function, while decreasing the risk of improper healing or healing in the wrong position of fractured bones.

There is also a similar procedure called external fixation, which uses devices placed outside the body, such as pins connected to a frame, to stabilize the fractured bones. While internal fixation addresses fractures directly, external fixation provides stability from the outside, often used in more complex cases or when internal fixation isn’t feasible. Both methods aim for proper bone alignment and healing but employ different strategies to achieve this goal.

When is internal fixation required?

It depends on the severity and type of bone break. The type of break is classified by pattern, cause, and body part. With more serious bone breaks, surgical interventions such as internal fixation may be necessary.

These types of breaks include:

  • Open (compound) fracture. This type of break occurs when the broken bone protrudes through the skin, or a wound directly leads to the fracture site, increasing the risk of infection and external bleeding.
  • Complicated fracture. In a complicated fracture, not only is the bone broken, but the surrounding structures also sustain injury. This can involve damage to veins, arteries, nerves, and the protective lining of the bone (periosteum).
  • Comminuted fracture. This fracture results in the bone being shattered into small pieces, contributing to a slower healing process, particularly characteristic of this more complex fracture.
  • Transverse fracture. These fractures occur when the break runs horizontally across the bone, perpendicular to its natural direction. Often referred to as complete fractures, this implies that the fracture line extends entirely through the bone. Typically affecting long bones in the body, transverse fractures represent a specific pattern of breakage. These are most commonly seen after car accidents, and while they do not always require surgery, more severe cases may.
  • Oblique fracture. This type of fracture occurs when a bone breaks at an angle rather than a straight line. These are often described as complete, indicating that the break extends entirely through the bone.
  • Spiral fractures. Spiral fractures occur when a bone is broken due to a twisting motion, resulting in a fracture line that wraps around the bone in a corkscrew-like fashion. Described as complete fractures, this indicates that the break extends entirely through the bone. These types of breaks are rare.

While we can create a list of the most common fractures that require surgical treatment, any fracture, if it is severe enough, may meet that requirement. Car accidents, motorcycle accidents, truck accidents, and falls (among many other types of accidents) can lead to serious injuries, including fractures. It is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible after an accident so that your injuries do not worsen or cause further damage.

The cost of treatment is higher for catastrophic bone breaks

A simple fracture generally only requires a cast. Depending on your health insurance status, this can cost hundreds of dollars. While not ideal, it does not compare to the cost of surgical intervention. Surgeries are notoriously costly, and internal fixation is no different. These procedures can cost several thousand dollars. This does not factor in other costs related to your injury and surgery, including the hospital stay, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and the cost of mobility assistance devices. These costs can pile up quickly, possibly leaving you in a hole that can be difficult if not impossible to dig out of.

When both your body and your wallet severely suffer due to someone else’s negligence, it is a tragic price that you should not have to pay. An experienced and diligent medical team can help your body to heal, an experienced legal team can ensure that your finances do not suffer permanent damage. The personal injury attorneys at Philbrook Law Office in Vancouver, WA are here to help you. We know that fractures, as common as they are, are nothing to shrug off. They can be life-changing and costly injuries. Our knowledgeable team will ensure that the party at fault for your injury will be the one responsible for footing your medical bills. To schedule a free consultation at one of our offices in Vancouver or Battle Ground, WA, call us or use our contact page. We want to help you on your road to recovery, so that you can focus on healing while we handle the legal and financial side of things. Also serving Oregon.