Chip Fracture Treatment | Chip Bone Fracture Surgery | Fractured Chip Bone Healing Time, Symptoms and Recovery
Chip fractures, also known as avulsion fractures, are kinds of injuries wherein small fragments of bones are chipped off from the bone’s main structure. This type of fracture commonly happens when too much force is applied on the bones, causing its ligaments or tendons to pull off a piece of the bone where the tendons are attached. Chip fractures commonly happen on children than in adults because they still have skeletal weak point known as the growth plate. This bone area is the one that is still actively growing so if ligaments and tendons near it pulled forcefully, there is a great chance the soft area will fracture. Athletes are also very prone to this type of injury because they constantly do tough physical activities which may cause their muscles to contract strongly. Strong muscle contractions which cannot be managed by the bones also cause chip bone fractures.
Chip Fracture Types
Type I. The fragmented bone is only minimally displaced from the bone’s main body. Do not need surgical treatments and can be treated with the use of simple cast immobilizations.
Type II. This bone injury causes lesions on neighboring tissues but the chipped fragment still maintains a respectable distance to the main bone. This case requires surgery.
Type III- the chipped bone fragment is more than 2 centimeters far from the primary bone. Requires surgery in order to remove or join the detached fragment back to the main bone body of the bone.
Common sites that suffer from chip fractures are the phalanges, iliac crest, and the iliac spine. The diagnosis starts with the doctor inquiring from the patient about the pain he experiences, the time the injury took place, and the locations where the pain is felt. This will be followed by a brief physical examination which will involve flexing, stretching, and reaching exercises to test if there are other tendons or joints that are also affected. Normally, chip fractures can be easily seen through the use of x-rays. But in cases where x-rays cannot able to show the detached fragment and its clear distance from the main bone, an ultrasound may be used instead. However, the most effective method of identifying the exact location and severity of the injury is through the use of MRI. MRIs are powerful bone scans which can also determine if there are soft tissues that were damaged by the injury. Rehabilitation or rehab is required.
Chip Fracture Causes
• Over pulling/stretching of joints
• Extreme stress applied (sports, training)
• Strong muscle contractions
• Falling and slipping
Chip Fracture Symptoms
• Pain when weight is applied on the affected area
Chip Fracture Treatment
The type of treatment that can be applied will be dependent on the location and severity of the injury. Most of the times, management of chip fractures only require the use of conservative treatments such as application of ice, use of bandages, and having adequate rest. Until a patient has a formal check-up with his physician, following the R.I.C.E. treatment is the most prescribed method. R stands for resting, I for the application of Ice, C for compression to minimize the swelling of the injured area, and E for elevation wherein the injured area should be raised in an angle to reduce swelling.
As for medical non-surgical treatments, there are two options which can be administered on the injury. The first is immobilization. Based on the level of severity, the affected area is immobilized through the use of stiff-soled shoes, casts, or braces. Another method is bone stimulation wherein an external device is attached internally (on the bone) and connected externally (outside the skin) to immobilized the bones and speed up the healing process. Surgery is only required when the chip fracture causes the bone to be severely displaced. Other indications include multiple breaks and if the bone has failed to heal properly even after initial treatment has already been applied.
Chip Fracture Recovery Time, Healing Time: It can take more than 2 months. Rehabilitation may be required.
Prevention of Chip Bone Injury:
Having some initial exercises before putting the body under highly stressful activities can help a lot in preventing chip fractures from occurring. Doing warm ups can also help a lot because it minimizes the chance of having powerful muscle contractions which can chip off parts of the bone. For children, training them earlier with basic exercises can help improve the flexibility of their bones.
When to Call a Doctor
Chip fractures are commonly seen as cases of mild bone injuries so they do not need immediate medical attention. However, if the R.I.C.E method failed to reduce the pain after a couple of days, then it is time to finally seek the help of a physician. Swelling, numbness, and bruising weeks after the injury has occurred are also strong indications that the injury needs immediate medical treatment.