What Is the Treatment for an Impacted Fracture?

A. Pasbjerg

An impacted fracture, where a bone shatters and fragments of it are driven into other pieces of bone, can be quite serious and should be treated quickly once the extent of the injury is determined to avoid further issues. If the damage is not too severe, a cast, splint, or sling may be sufficient to hold the injured bone in place so it can heal correctly. More extensive fractures with multiple bone fragments may require surgery to put them back in place, and hardware like screws or pins may be needed to keep them there. As these types of breaks are often quite painful, medication may be needed to control it during healing.

A CT scan may be ordered to deterrmine the severity of an impacted fracture.
A CT scan may be ordered to deterrmine the severity of an impacted fracture.

If an impacted fracture only involves a few bone fragments and the damage is not too significant, immobilization may be sufficient to treat it. A doctor will typically use an X-ray, MRI, or CT scan to see how badly fractured the bone is and where the fragments are. Milder fractures can be held in place with splints, slings, or casts to keep the affected area immobile. This keeps the ends of the bones from rubbing against each other or driving further into one another, and allows the bone to heal. It may be necessary to minimize movement of the injured area for quite some time, even after a cast or splint is removed, as impacted fractures typically heal quite slowly.

An impacted fracture can severely limit mobility until it is fully healed, especially in older adults.
An impacted fracture can severely limit mobility until it is fully healed, especially in older adults.

When an impacted fracture involves numerous bone fragments, surgery may be necessary. A bone that has shattered that badly typically needs to be reconstructed to avoid further damage and heal correctly. Surgical implants like metal screws, rods, or pins may have to be used as well to keep the pieces of bone together properly. After surgery, the affected area will likely require a period of time in a cast or sling to limit movement and allow the fragments to reunite.

Treatment for an impacted fracture may involve surgery.
Treatment for an impacted fracture may involve surgery.

Due to the severity of the breaks typically involved with an impacted fracture, the condition usually causes patients a significant amount of pain. Though the level of pain can vary from person to person and with the extent of the damage, they are often excruciating to the point of being intolerable. In order to manage this level of pain, a doctor may recommend the use of pain medication. The type may depend on the degree of discomfort the patient is suffering; over-the-counter drugs like NSAIDs may be sufficient for some, while others may need a prescription.

A X-ray will show how badly a bone has been fractured.
A X-ray will show how badly a bone has been fractured.
A severe impacted fracture often requires the use of plates, rods and screws to realign the bone.
A severe impacted fracture often requires the use of plates, rods and screws to realign the bone.
After surgery, the affected area will likely require a period of time in a cast or sling to allow bone fragments to reunite.
After surgery, the affected area will likely require a period of time in a cast or sling to allow bone fragments to reunite.
It is important to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables following surgery for a fracture.
It is important to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables following surgery for a fracture.

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