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Orthopedic Services
Glendale Adventist Medical Center
1509 Wilson Terrace
Glendale, CA 91206
Ph: (818) 409-8000

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Frequently Asked Questions About: Fractures
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Patient Education Topics for: Fractures | Recent News Relating to Fractures
  • I just came back from the hospital after visiting my Granpa who broke his leg. I don't understand why they don't stitch his skin back up. When the doctor took the bandage off to check it, he said he could see there's a gaping hole. No one explained this to him. I told him I would go on-line and see what I could find out.
  • My husband is a diabetic and wouldn't you know it, he broke his leg in a car accident. It's a pretty substantial break with a lot of damage to the tissues in his calf. He may need a skin graft. Right now he's having these lavage treatments. He's had six of those treatments so far. If I could just get him home, I know he would heal right up. What can I say to the doctor to stop this treatment and send us home?
  • I broke my collar bone when I tripped over the cat and fell against the coffee table. The surgeon put a metal plate in there and everything works fine but there's a lot of numbness along the bone and down into my chest. Is that from the fracture or from the surgery?
  • When I was a kid, I broke my collar bone falling forward over the handle bars of my bike. They put me in a sling for a month and I was fine. My grandson did the same thing and now it's an emergency surgery. Don't they use the sling anymore?
  • My wife is in a nursing home. Last night she fell and broke her upper arm into four pieces. The nursing staff and doctors are trying to decide the best way to treat this problem. She's 81-years-old, has dementia, and can't follow directions. She also has severe osteoporosis, which I've been told compounds the problem. What are some of the treatment options?
  • Our 78-year-old "Nana" fell and broke her right shoulder into three pieces. Her surgeon says she needs an operation he can't do, so we are being referred to a special clinic for a reverse shoulder replacement. What's so difficult about this operation?
  • Dad fell last month and had surgery to put a long nail into his thigh bone and some plates and screws to hold everything together. I saw the X-rays today at the surgeon's office. For all the metal they have in and around the knee, I'm wondering why they didn't just give him a knee replacement.
  • Our favorite friend and neighborhood adopted "gramma" fell and broke her knee. I guess the fracture is just above the knee but the bone broke into tiny bits. What are her chances for recovery?
  • What's the best treatment for a fracture of the hamate bone in the wrist? Specifically, the little hook underneath the bone is broken off.
  • Seems like everything we buy these days at the discount stores is all from China. Are they exporting any better health care ideas than we have here in the U.S.? I could use a little help with a problem I have called mallet fracture.
  • I visited a dear friend in the hospital who broke her arm. Fell and landed hard on her side -- broke the upper arm bone into three big chunks. The surgeon pinned it all together to try and save it. What happens if it doesn't work?
  • We are facing a crucial decision quickly for our father. He needs surgery for a bad shoulder fracture. We've been told there are two basic options: repair or replace. Repair means the surgeon will piece everything back together and hold it together with a metal plate and as many screws as are needed. Replace means a total shoulder joint. Which way should we go?
  • My wife was involved in a motorcycle accident that left her with all the ribs broken on her right side. How in the world do they treat this problem? She's in with the doctors right now while I search for information on the Internet to help us deal with this.
  • What is a flail chest? Our 16-year-old son was involved in a serious car wreck. He's in the operating room with multiple injuries. They say the worst is this flail chest.
  • Have you ever heard of intramedullary fixation for a broken collar bone? That's what my kid has from a snowboarding accident. In my day, they would have slapped a sling on that baby and called it good. Is all this monkey business really needed (to the tune of 1000s of dollars for the surgery)?
  • I am a high school basketball coach. One of my best players broke the middle of her collar bone into tiny pieces. She's in surgery now. They say they can put a wire in there that gets hard and holds it in place while it heals. What can we expect for the length of time before she can play again? We are headed for divisional playoffs in just a few months.
  • We've been told that our son's arm can be saved after a terrible car accident but some of the major nerves have been crushed. The prognosis is "guarded." What can you tell us what is possible -- can the nerves plump themselves back up and start firing again?
  • Okay, I am typing this one-handed because my left arm is in a sling with a broken humerus bone. Despite the name (humerus), I find nothing funny about my situation. It's a good thing I am right-handed so I can ask this question. Should I have the surgery to fix the break or get a shoulder replacement? Or should I go with a trial period without surgery? The surgeon says with a nonoperative plan, I can always change my mind and have the surgery later.
  • When our son was 11-years-old, he had an injury on the soccer field that left him with both bones of the left forearm broken. Fortunately, he is right-handed. But the reason I'm writing now is that he is 21-years-old and seems to have some kind of hand tremors. Could those be from the broken bones even though it's 10 years later?
  • I am 18-years-old and planning a career in music. I play the piano and several other instruments. Eventually, I hope to be a composer and a conductor of small groups or even a symphonic group. I recently fell and broke both bones in my dominant forearm (right side). Is there any way to predict how this will turn out? I meditate daily to help with the healing process but I'm still concerned I might not get full use of my arm.
  • Our 32-year-old son had a car accident while he was in town visiting us. He broke both bones in his right forearm. He was unconscious so we had to make a quick decision without being able to consult with his wife about the surgery. In the end, we decided (based on the surgeon's comments) to have a plate and screws put in instead of a long nail down the center of the bone. We are second guessing whether we did the right thing. Could they have put a cast on his arm and avoided surgery? We never even thought to ask that question. What would you have done?
  • I had emergency surgery last week for a forearm fracture I got in a biking accident. The surgeon consulted with several other doctors before putting in a plate with six screws to hold the broken bone together. I wondered if the surgeon knew what he was doing but I was in no shape to argue. What do you think?
  • I have a broken bone in my foot -- actually kind of between the ankle and the foot. According to the orthopedic surgeon it's the navicular bone and it's a stress fracture. I'll be off the foot for six weeks. I admit I like to push the envelope on most things. Is it possible to speed up recovery? I'm anxious to get back on my feet and going.
  • I'm in the middle of a nasty lawsuit looking for some information. Two years ago, I broke my wrist and damaged the distal ulnar-radial junction. The problem was misdiagnosed and mismanaged. I finally found out I had a Galeazzi fracture that required surgery. Now that that's behind me, I'm asking for damages because I have constant pain and lost motion. Is this really a difficult problem to diagnose?
  • What can you tell me about locking versus non-locking metal plates for hand fractures? The surgeon who is treating my father (he has a broken hand) asked us which he might prefer but we left it up to the surgeon to decide because we don't know enough about it. What can you tell us?
  • My grandchildren call me the "Bionic gamma." That's their term for their old gramma with metal in so many places I set off all alarms at the airport security counter. Most recently, I fell and broke my hand. The surgeon used stainless steel plates to hold the bone pieces together. Some of my other "parts" are made of titanium. Is there much difference?
  • Oh boy. Dad was lifting some boxes in the garage and snapped the upper part of his arm into four pieces (the round ball at the top of the shoulder). They've got him in surgery now. What should we expect in terms of recovery?
  • Our 77-year-old mother dislocated and fractured (or maybe it was the other way around: fractured and dislocated) her upper arm/shoulder area. I saw the X-ray. It looked pretty messy. She's in surgery right now. What can they do for this kind of injury? I'm worried she'll lose her arm.
  • Everyone is talking about the need for evidence before making medical decisions about the best course of action. Can you help me find the latest on treatment of a displaced intra-articular fracture of the distal humerus (elbow fracture)? That's what my elderly father has and is facing surgery for. I'd like to do everything I can to make sure he gets the right (best) treatment.
  • Our Mum is a spry 77-year-old but she fell yesterday and broke her elbow. She's been seen by a team of experts but no one can decide which treatment is best for her: operate to fix the fracture or replace the elbow. They are bringing in one more expert to take a look today. Why is this such a difficult decision?
  • My wife is in the emergency room with our son who broke his wrist this afternoon. Guess he fell from the monkey bars at the local park. Busted the radial bone just above the wrist. Guess it's dicey because the broken ends shifted and now overlap each other. My job is to research the Internet for the safest, best treatment possible since we don't have any insurance. I guess my real question is: can they just cast it and avoid surgery?
  • Please, please answer this quickly. We have about 20 to 30 minutes to decide. Our eight-year-old daughter fell while speeding around the grocery store on her "heelies" (those sneakers with the light inside). Yes, I am to blame for not supervising her more closely. At the moment, she has a broken wrist and the bones are overlapping. The surgeon assures us that the arm can be cast without doing surgery to pull the bones apart and realign them properly first. She says young children who are still growing will turn out 'normal.' Is this really true? Should we insist on surgery? I don't know what to do.
  • We took our son to the emergency department after a bad fall from his bicycle. The doctor there X-rayed it and saw that both bones in the forearm were broken. She tried to reset the bones without doing surgery (they gave our son a mild sedative). But it didn't work so he ended up having a surgeon do this in the operating room. We are wondering if the emergency room doctor could have gotten it if she had tried again but we don't have any way to know for sure. What do you think?
  • As a family, we just came away from a two-hour meeting with surgeons who are trying to help our father who has a severe arm fracture. He's a farmer and made the mistake of getting too close to a piece of equipment that can chop your arm off. Instead, he ended up with an arm bone that's now in three major pieces. The problem is -- those three pieces have large spaces bewteen them. They are talking about doing a two-part procedure called induced membrane and using bone from a bone bank. They explained it all but can you help us understand all this a bit better?
  • My brother was in the wrong place at the wrong time and took a bullet to his lower leg. He ended up with a major bone fracture they think might result in a significant shortening of the bone. Isn't there some way they can make a fake bone or something to keep the leg length? I'm thinking this could be a terrible disability if they can't do something about it.
  • I fell over the weekend (tripped over a garden hose) and really dinged up my wrist. Trying to decide if the splint I bought at the grocery store is all I need or if I should have a cast put on the arm. How do I know which one works better?
  • What's the best way to treat a supracondylar fracture of the humerus (elbow)?
  • Mother fell while using her walker on her back porch and broke her index and middle finger. They put a funny looking cast on her hand that keeps the fingers bent 90 degrees at the knuckles. The cast forms a little "roof" over the back of her fingers. She can bend them all she wants, she just can't straighten them. I've never seen anything like it -- what is the purpose of this type of cast?
  • How can you tell if someone needs to see a hand therapist after breaking the fingers? My brother was in a bad skiing accident and broke the three main fingers of his dominant hand. He didn't break the joints or the baby finger, which they said is usually the most commonly fractured finger bone. Anyway, he was put in a cast up to his elbow and now he's out but he says it's very stiff. I had therapy after I broke my wrist last year and it was very helpful. Would something like this be a good idea for my brother?
  • I have the tiniest of fractures in my baby finger but still have to have surgery to put it back together. How long do you think it will be before I can get back to work?
  • My husband slammed his fingers in the car door. He broke the ring and little fingers. Three hand surgeons are meeting right now to figure out what to do. I guess the baby finger has a piece of bone pulled away from the main finger bone. There's a ligament still attached and that's what they are studying. Why is this such a big fuss?
  • My ring and baby fingers broke when they got slammed in a car door. After I wore a fiberglass cast for 4 weeks, they took it off yesterday. My hand was a gross mess but I guess that's typical from wearing a cast. It all washed off pretty well. What I don't understand is why it looks like my knuckle is missing (the big knuckle you normally see when making a fist). I am definitely not happy about how it looks.
  • What is a Bennett thumb fracture? I get that my thumb is broken -- just not what a Bennet break means.
  • What can you tell me about the kind of hardware they use to fix a broken thumb? I had a titanium plate and screws but when I went on-line I saw there is some newer stuff available now. Why didn't my surgeon use the new (better?) hardware?
  • Why is it so hard to tell if a person has a stress fracture or not? I saw two physical therapists (one was also an athletic trainer) and an orthopedic surgeon. No one could tell me what was wrong until I finally insisted on an MRI. And there it was! Couldn't they have at least taken an X-ray?
  • The physical therapist I'm seeing thinks I might have a stress fracture in the thigh bone (right at the top near the groin). To find out for sure I would probably have to have an MRI. The closest place to where I live in Wyoming to get a test like that is a 45-minute drive (one way). Do I really need to get this test?
  • Can you help me understand something? I fell and broke my wrist and right away the doctor wanted to put me on Fosamax for my osteoporosis. But if I understand this drug correctly, it keeps the bone from destroying bone cells. And isn't it important for normal, healthy bone to get rid of old bone cells and replace them with new? So, if I have a broken bone that needs new cells to heal, won't this drug keep that from happening? I'm confused by the information my doctor gave me and what I'm reading on-line.
  • Last year, Mother was advised by her doctor to start taking Fosamax for her osteoporosis. She refused. Then last week, she fell and broke her wrist. The doctor insisted she start taking this medication now. She's a pretty smart lady and went on-line and found that maybe this drug would slow her fracture healing. So she's refusing again. Is there anything you can tell me that might help me convince her to follow her doctor's advice? Help!
  • I heard if I take bone building drugs like Fosamax, I could actually develop some kind of rare bone fracture of the thigh anyway. What are they talking about? Does this happen to everyone or just certain people?
  • I was standing in line at the grocery store minding my own business when my leg gave out from under me. The next thing I knew I was waking up in the hospital with a broken leg. The nurse told me I have something called an atypical femoral fracture. I get the general idea this is unusual but can you tell me more about it?
  • Can you tell me what a "fragility fracture" is? My 87-year-old mother says this is what the doctor told her is causing her wrist pain. Should we be concerned?

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