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Treating Broken Bones: Are splints and casts enough?

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Treating Broken Bones: Are splints and casts enough?

Broken bones are caused by a traumatic impact greater than the bone can handle. Different incidents can cause bone breaks, and they're more common than you might think. Whether you get hurt on the job, are involved in a car accident or suffer from an injury while playing sports, diagnosing and addressing bone fractures is critical to decrease the likelihood of permanent damage.

Pain is usually the first sign people experience that lets them know something is wrong. However, not all fractures lead to pain, making it sometimes challenging to determine if you've broken a bone. Depending on the area of the broken bone and the type of fracture, symptoms can vary. If you experience pain, an inability to move or apply weight, swelling, inflammation, bleeding, bruising or deformity, it is critical to seek immediate medical care.

General Treatment Options for Broken Bones

A doctor can help pinpoint the kind of fracture you have and establish the right treatment option for you. Here are some of the most common treatment options for broken bones:


The most common form of treatment for a broken bone is immobilizing the part of the body where the injury is located. This reduces the chances of causing more damage by allowing it to heal adequately.

There are different ways in which doctors will immobilize the body. These can include casts, splints, braces or slings. Usually made from plaster or fiberglass, they wrap around the injury and prevent it from sustaining further damage as it heals.

Depending on the type of fracture you’ve sustained, immobilization treatment can last for several weeks or even a few months. In some cases, if there is no improvement of the broken bone, further treatment, such as surgery, may be necessary.


While traction is a less common treatment for a broken bone, there are such cases where it's necessary. The traction technique gently pulls the injured area of the body to help align the bones back into place. There are different types of traction methods that depend on the fracture's location and severity and what kind of force is needed to help realign and heal the bone.

Skeletal, skin or cervical traction techniques are used to address specific body areas, such as the femur, pelvis, hip, upper arms, muscles, tendons, neck and more. By helping stabilize broken bones, traction can help reduce pain, lessen muscle spasms, treat bone deformities and ultimately treat broken bones in the early stages of healing.

Pins, Screws or Rods

Typically, surgery is required when pins, screws or rods are needed to help support and aid in the healing process of broken bones. Open reduction and external or internal fixations apply support to the bone with metals to help hold the structure of the bone in place.

An external fixation operation uses pins or screws to connect the bone to a metal bar located externally of the extremity. This helps secure the bone in a proper position and stabilize it long-term while it heals. Generally, this type of procedure is applied to the femur or thighbone.

An open reduction or internal fixation places pins, screws or rods internally to reposition the bone and realign it. The fracture can also be held together by metal plates screwed to the outer surface of the bone. Rods are typically placed between the marrow space in the center of the bone to give it structure.

The Takeaway

Dealing with a fracture isn’t the best experience, but it’s essential to know that those in the medical care field are ready to treat your injury and help you fully recover. While some broken bones require surgery and a trip to the emergency room, many people don’t know that many different types of fractures can be treated at an urgent care clinic.

Urgent care clinics are designed to solve urgent medical problems that don’t require the level of care or cost of an emergency room visit. If you or someone you know ever experiences a fracture, consider visiting an urgent care to see if they can help you. These non-emergent facilities provide casts, splints, braces or slings for less severe bone breaks, which means you’re not only receiving treatment quickly, but you’re also getting quality care promptly—an essential component to adequately healing fractures.

ProMedica Toledo Hospital Emergency and Urgent Care is here to care for your medical needs, including broken or fractured bones. We serve patients with a welcoming environment, ER-trained staff and complete transparency – patients are only billed for the level of care they receive. Plus, no appointments are necessary.

ProMedica Toledo Hospital Emergency and Urgent Care is located at 1075 Medical Center Parkway, Maumee, OH 43537. The emergency room is open 24/7, and the urgent care clinic is open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.