Kelsey-Seybold Clinic Offers New Treatment For Broken Bones That Won’t Heal
Houston (April 21, 2001) - If you have ever broken your arm or a leg, you know how uncomfortable the healing process can be. For some, proper healing doesn’t occur and the patient believes the bone will never be the same. Kelsey-Seybold Clinic offers a new treatment for fractures that can correct deformity, including shortening, rotation and angulation.
Glenn C. Landon, M.D., head of the Orthopedic Department with Kelsey-Seybold, says the new device, the Taylor Spatial Frame, has only recently become available in the Houston area. The external fixation device is used with a computer-generated program to treat fractures, non-unions and mal-unions. It is most commonly used to treat tibia, or leg bone, injuries.
“Fractures that never heal are called non-unions,” Landon says.“ Other bones heal but become crooked and are known as a mal-unions. This device has been extremely powerful in the treatment of difficult fractures,” Landon says, citing the example of an elderly male patient. “At 75, this patient had a crooked non-union of the tibia and suffered with it for more than 40 years. Previous attempts to straighten and heal the bone were unsuccessful. The spatial frame allowed the bone to heal and the leg became straight, even in this older individual.”
Landon explains that broken bones come in many shapes and sizes. Many fractures are simple and heal with casts or splints. Others are more difficult to heal and may require surgery. Open fractures, also called compound fractures, are where the bone penetrates the skin. These are the most difficult to deal with because healing is slow and infection can complicate the injury.
Stress fractures occur when someone overloads a bone without a fall or injury. Runners and athletes commonly suffer from stress fractures, as do people with weak bones (osteoporosis). “With a stress fracture, the patient feels pain when weight is put on the bone. X-rays may read normal, so repeat X-rays, an MRI scan, CT or bone scan may be necessary to diagnose a stress fracture,” Landon says.
“In the case of a stress fracture, treatment typically involves resting the area until the bone has time to heal,” Landon says.
Advances in the care of fractures have been aimed at achieving more predictable healing, with proper bone alignment, which prevents stiffness of joints. Short casts and braces often can replace the long casts of the past, Landon says.
Surgical treatments are divided into two categories: internal fixation, such as rods, plates and screws placed entirely under the skin, and external fixation, in which pins extend into the bone and through the skin and attach to rings or rods outside the area of the bone. “The goal of surgical treatment is to maintain the alignment of the bone while allowing the joints to move,” Landon says.
Many patients complain of stiffness of the joints, and Landon recommends consulting with a physician for proper exercises to prevent the stiffness but not stress the fracture or the surgical device that is aiding the healing. “Exercise is important to maintain muscle tone and prevent stiffness,” he says. “In some cases, formal physical therapy is needed to restore movement and function after a fracture.
”If you’ve never experienced the pain and agony of a broken bone, you may not have to because prevention avenues are numerous today. Airbags in motor vehicles have reduced the numbers of fractures caused in wrecks. Training regimes for novice and experienced athletes can reduce the incidence of stress fractures. Someone who has been sedentary and then decides to start running every day needs to train properly to avoid injuries.
Osteoporosis also can cause broken bones in elderly men and women. A proper diet, adequate calcium intake, exercise, hormones and other medications can prevent the onset of osteoporosis. If the disease already is present, its effects can be minimized by the same treatments. Another important finding beneficial to older people in nursing homes is that wearing padding around the hips can reduce the chance of fractures in a fall.
In the case of children, many suffer broken bones playing sports. To prevent needless injuries, proper adult supervision is necessary. Avoid mismatches in the sizes of children, especially in sports like football, basketball and soccer.
As an added convenience to patients, Kelsey-Seybold’s computerized X-ray system allows physicians to store, send and receive images electronically via e-mail, saving time for all involved.
For more information about broken bones and orthopedic options, contact your primary care physician or call Kelsey-Seybold’s Main Campus at 713-442-0000.