What is Fracture Bracing/Casting?
A bone fracture is a medical condition in which the continuity of a bone is broken due to damage or injury. Most fractures occur because of injury to the bone; however, some are caused by medical conditions that weaken bones.
Fracture treatment differs according to the severity and type of fracture. Nevertheless, casting and bracing is one of the most common non-surgical treatment for broken bones. Femoral, Tibial shaft, and Humeral fracture brace are some common examples.
A cast or brace holds the bone in position by restricting mobility to aid the natural process of healing. A cast or brace is worn until the bone heals completely. Big bones like the Humerus take longer to heal, the humeral fracture brace has to be worn for 6-8 weeks.
Who Needs Fracture Bracing/Casting?
Individuals who have fractured bones can benefit from casting and bracing. They may experience the following symptoms:
- Intense pain.
- Limited range of motion in the affected area.
- Inability to put weight on the affected area.
- Bruising and discoloration.
- The bone may be bent at an unnatural angle.
- Bleeding in case of an open fracture, which breaks soft tissues.
- The patient may feel dizzy and nauseous.
Casting and bracing without the assistance of surgery is the most common treatment for fractures of the Humerus like Mid-shaft humeral fracture, Proximal humeral fracture, and Distal humeral fracture, etc. Apart from Humeral fracture brace, elbow fracture brace, shoulder fracture brace, and leg fracture brace are also common.
How Does It Work?
The aim of fracture treatment is to ensure the best possible function of the broken bone after healing. Orthopedic specialists conduct a thorough examination of the affected area. They order an X-ray to obtain visuals of the broken bone. In some cases, a CT or MRI is also necessary.
Once the type and severity of the fracture are determined, the doctor recommends treatment. If casting and bracing are the optimal treatment, the broken bone is realigned under general anesthetic. The realignment of the bone is called reducing the fracture; it is done through manipulation, closed reduction, or open reduction and internal fixation.
After reduction, the bone is immobilized with a cast and brace to ensure that bone fragments remain aligned. Surgical treatment is recommended if the fracture is severe. Shoulder joint fractures that cause severe shoulder pain may require surgery.
Generally, a cast is kept on for 6-8 eight weeks. The broken bone heals itself by forming a new bone that grafts the broken bones. The cast/brace, such as a humeral fracture brace or elbow fracture brace, is removed after the bone has healed.
A patient’s age, type of fracture, general health conditions, and lifestyle habits determine how quickly the bone heals. Elderly patients take longer to heal. Physical therapy is recommended to restore muscle strength after the bone has healed.
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How Long Does It Take for an Elbow Fracture to Heal?
- For full recovery, the elbow fractures usually take around six weeks.
- During the healing time, make sure not to stress the joint by heavy weight-bearing or heavy lifting.
- During the recovery period, you may continue to use the elbow normally for everyday activities.
Do You Need a Cast for a Fractured Elbow?
- For a stable fracture with no displacement, the doctor may directly apply the cast to keep the bones in alignment as they heal.
- If there is swelling, only a splint is applied until the swelling goes away, then cast can be applied.
- In some cases of elbow fracture, the bones may need to be repositioned before a cast or splint is applied.
How Long Do You Have to Wear a Sling for a Fractured Elbow?
- In cases of small fractures, you will need to wear a sling to support your elbow and arm for at least two to three weeks.
- In larger fractures, you may need realignment of bones and a cast.
How Do You Tell If Elbow Is Broken or Just Bruised?
- Possible signs of a fracture include:
- Severe pain while moving the arm.
- Weakness in hand and wrist.
- The visible deformity may mean that either the bones are misaligned, or the elbow joint is dislocated.
- Snap or pop sound at the time of the injury may also mean that you have fractured your elbow.