Fractures: How To Manage Pain Following A Bone Fracture

Fractures: How To Manage Pain Following A Bone Fracture
Fractures: How To Manage Pain Following A Bone Fracture

The term “Fracture” connotes a broken bone. A bone may fracture entirely or partially and there could be multiple reasons such as trauma from a fall, road or vehicle accident, or fracture while playing a sport. Additionally, fractures may be the result of certain medical conditions such as osteoporosis in older people; the bone can become brittle and break easily.

Dr Vivek Loomba, Senior Consultant Pain Physician at the Indian Spinal Injuries Center, New Delhi, says, “When you fracture a bone, your body reacts by producing pain to alert you about the injury. A fracture can also result in injuries to the muscles, tendons, cartilage, nerves, ligaments, and blood vessels in the vicinity of the fracture. Moreover, it may result in swelling, discoloration, and bleeding.”

Types of Fractures

According to Dr Vivek Loomba, fractures are of numerous types. He shares some of the common types of fractures:

Comminuted fracture: When the bone has broken into multiple fragments.
Greenstick fracture: An incomplete or partial fracture, wherein bone is bent.
Stress Fracture or hairline crack.
Linear fracture: When a bone fractures parallel to its long axis.
Avulsion fracture: When a fragment of bone separates from the main mass.
Spiral fracture: When a bone breaks in a spiral pattern.
Pathologic Fracture: This can result due to a disease that weakens the bones.

Treatment for a fracture

Cast or splint: A cast or splint is used to immobilize the affected area as they hold broken bones in place while they heal.

Traction: It is a method to realign a broken bone or dislocated part of the body. This typically entails stretching and pulling particular tendons and muscles near fractures using weights, strings, and pulleys.

Surgery: The majority of broken bones heal when immobilized with a cast or splint. However, you might need surgery to insert plates, rods, or screws to keep the bones in the right place while they heal.  Usually, people who had multiple fractures, fractures in joints or damage in ligaments had to go through surgery.

Stages of pain following a bone fracture

Dr Vivek Loomba says that those who experience a bone fracture experience different degrees of pain i.e., immediately after the break and throughout the healing process. While some people only feel immediate, acute pain, others experience chronic pain that typically necessitates additional assistance of pain management specialists. Below he explains the stages of pain following a bone fracture:

Pain immediately after you suffered the injury: In most cases, the pain decreases with time

Pain after surgery: In a few cases you may need surgery to realign your broken bone. Post procedure you may feel pain in the affected area.

Pain while the bone is healing: It results from the absence of motion that was required to aid in the bone’s healing. Due to this the muscles can become weaker and the soft tissue around the injury becomes stiffer owing to inactivity. Additionally, inflammation and scarring can develop during the healing process leading to severe pain.

Pain after the healing is complete: After the soft tissues and fracture have fully healed, some individuals may still feel pain. This can be due to nerve damage, the formation of scar tissue, and other factors.

Treatments to reduce fracture pain

According to Dr Loomba, your pain management physician may prescribe you one or combination of medications/ therapies depending on the severity of pain. This includes:

Acetaminophen (crocin), non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) like Diclofenac, weak opioids like Tramadol, and more potent opioids like Morphine.
Nerve block injections can be given depending on the site.
Additionally, exercise and physiotherapy in a few cases can help to lessen pain and speed up recovery. But this should be done under the guidance and supervision of your medical practitioner.

Take home message

Dr Loomba concludes that it is important to understand that individuals who experience fracture will heal differently. The healing process and severity of pain also depends on factors like age of the patient, overall health, etc. Therefore, it is advisable to take adequate rest and follow the instructions of your doctor. In case you are experiencing severe pain, speak to a pain management physician who can suggest medications/ therapies depending on your condition.


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