Bone Fracture Repairs: What Are They All About?

Posted on September 30, 2021

Broken bones are no fun and everyone knows that. Among Canadians, 30,000 people will experience a hip fracture alone! They can be scary, but by educating yourself you can feel calmer about how you may be treated. 

There could be any number of reasons to want to know about bone fracture repair - maybe you're waiting for one or know someone who is. Or you're just curious! 

Regardless, we've got all the information you could ever want to know about bone repair. Keep reading to find out what you need to know for your situation! 

Who Qualifies for A Bone Fracture Repair? 

Depending on the nature of your fracture, there can be different treatments. But all bone fractures require emergency treatment. This is because fractured bones can cause all kinds of complications especially if you are older. 

Whether you have a bone fracture will depend on your diagnosis. The diagnosis will be made off of X-rays and symptoms include swelling, misalignment, open wounds, and acute pain or inability to move the affected limb or joint.

Now, the type of repair you receive will depend on a variety of factors. Age, cause, type of fracture, etc. We'll learn more about the different types of repairs in a minute. 

When Do You Need Surgery for A Bone Fracture? 

Not every fracture is going to require surgery, in fact, most won't need surgery at all. This is called a "closed reduction" and involves manipulating the bone from the outside. When this is not possible due to a failed closed reduction or general instability, they should proceed with the surgical option. 

What Are the Different Types of Bone Fractures?

There are many different situations that lead to bone fractures, so it makes sense that there are several different types of fractures. Let's take a look at the most common types of fractures. 

Greenstick

This type of fracture is found in children because children have a different bone type than adults. They are more springy and generally more resilient. Because of this, fractures in children tend to be incomplete (i.e. greenstick). 

In this situation, one side of the bone is broken but the other side is bent. Usually, a cast or brace to immobilize the bone is used rather than surgery. Full recovery from this type of fracture can be in as little as four weeks!

Transverse 

This is the most simple type of fracture and the most easily repaired in adults.  This is where the bone has a simple break.

This is a type of "closed" fracture, where the broken bone has not pierced the skin. They rarely require surgery and healing time for the fracture can take four to six weeks with an additional four weeks of a gradual return to normal activity. 

Comminuted 

These fractures are not simple and deal with situations where the bone has either splintered or been crushed into several pieces. Small blood vessels in the area often rupture during any kind of fracture, but particularly this one, causing bleeding and swelling (also known as a fracture hematoma). 

Spiral

In the situation of a spiral fracture, the bone has not broken into pieces. Rather, it has been twisted apart and generally, the ends are more jagged. Because of this, they almost always require surgery to repair. They can take more than six months to heal, depending on the severity of the break. 

Open 

This is simply the opposite of the aforementioned "closed" fracture. These types of fractures indicate that the bone or part of the bone has broken through the skin. 

How Long Do Bone Fracture Repairs Last? 

Recovery time for a fracture depends on the severity of the fracture in the beginning, as well as other mitigating factors such as age and whether the patient has a degenerative bone disease. 

Rods

Rods will only be removed once the bone has fully healed. Typically, it is done after a year. However, if someone has a bone disease such as rickets or osteogenesis imperfecta, a rod may be left in to prevent the possibility of another fracture.

Screws

This is one of the more common ways of healing a fracture. It typically takes around 18 months before this kind of repair should be removed. Afterwards, the individual should still wait before doing any kind of heavy movement so the holes left behind can heal. 

Plates

Generally, these should not be removed until at least nine months have passed since surgery but can sometimes take 18 months. While fractures can heal in much shorter periods of time it's better to let the bone strengthen over that time. 

Pins 

Pins are similar to screws in terms of what they are used for. They can take about the same amount of time before needing to be removed and for the bone to heal after removal. 

What Are the Different Types of Bone Fracture Repairs? 

While we already discussed how long it can take for each of these repairs to finish, let's look at what each of these types of repairs actually is

Rods

These are inserted into the center of the bone - also known as an intramedullary or IM device. Rods are used to help stabilize the bone so it remains steady and carefully protected during the healing process. Some can even deliver antibiotics in the case of infection. 

They also aren't attached to the bone with screws or pins. Thus, they are more flexible and often thinner than other options. 

Screws

When in surgery, screws will be used to hold the bone in position while it heals. Otherwise, in places like your feet that see frequent movement, the bone won't stay in place in order to heal. 

Plates

Often used in conjunction with screws, these are used to hold the bone in place while it heals. They look as you would expect, like a flat stick of metal that uses screws to hold it in place. 

Pins

Pins are often an alternative to or used in conjunction with screws and sometimes plates (as is the typical process used in repairing a broken hip). Pins are inserted into the bone in order to keep it in place for proper healing. 

What Kind of Maintenance Do Bone Fracture Screws Require?

Maintenance of bone screws depends on how complicated your fracture was, to begin with. Sometimes it is a simple fix where you won't need many appointments to remain updated on progress, for others it will be critical to know the bone is healing properly. 

But can screws in bones break? Depending on the placement in the body and the weight and fitness of the patient, screws can be at risk for bending or breaking. This can be down to material and the amount of pressure the screws experience. 

In these cases, it is important to look at the material used, which can be stainless steel, titanium, or Bio-absorbable. It is important to talk with your doctor about the activity levels you plan to have. 

browsing the Canada health care plan

Do the Canadian Health Care Programs Cover Bone Fracture Repairs?

Canadian health care programs cover broken bones, even those as a result of things like osteoporosis. In most cases, you will need to head to the emergency room of a hospital so expect some wait times. 

Of course, one of the best things you can do is work to prevent the need to repair a bone fracture in the first place. Did you know there are several different healthy foods to keep your bones strong? Start building strong bones today! 

Do Private Canadian Health Care Plans Cover Bone Fracture Repairs? 

Private Canadian health care plans almost always cover bone fracture repairs. They may also provide additional benefits such as physiotherapy sessions. They will also likely improve the wait times, and assist with medicine fees. 

But, it's good to explore their annual cap on prescription drugs and doctor's visits to make sure you won't be exceeding them. Additionally, copayments, deductibles, and premiums will vary across companies and plans, so be sure to check what your specific plan will cover. You can learn more about private Canadian health care plans with our ultimate guide

What Else Should You Know? 

Now that you know all about bone fracture repair, there can be other things to consider. We've already discussed various health care plans, but if you're worried about a bone fracture in the future it can be a good idea to shop around for the best plan. 

That's where we come in! At Insurdinary we offer the ability to compare plans and companies quickly to save you time and money. Ask us for a quote and get started today! 

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