Distal Fracture Treatment | Distal Bone Fracture Surgery | Fractured Distal Healing Time, Symptoms, Causes, Recovery
When we say distal fracture, this could mean it is a fracture that is proximal or near to the point of reference where the endpoint of a limb is located. For example, a distal radial fracture is a fracture of the forearm bone that happens near the wrist joint while a distal humerus fracture is a fracture on the upper arm bone that occur near the elbow joint. Distal fractures usually occur on long bones where they are near the joints. Most of these types of fractures are caused by direct blow to the bone of the arm or the leg or due to falls or any accident that can directly or indirectly break the bones.
Types of distal fractures or Classification
The most common types of distal fractures are the following:
• Distal radius fracture. This is becoming a common bone fracture of the distal radius bone in the forearm. The radius is the bone that is located on the forefront of the arm in line with the thumb. Because this fracture is almost near the wrist, it is oftentimes called a wrist fracture. A fall with an outstretch arm and hand can cause this type of fracture.
• Distal humerus fracture. This is a fracture of the upper arm bone that is near the elbow joint. Although the humerus is considered the thickest bone in the arm, it can also break due to hard blows and falls. There can be damage to the elbow joint or to the soft tissue near the elbows in most of the cases of distal humerus fracture.
• Distal femoral fracture. The femur is the thighbone and with distal femoral fracture, this means that the fracture occurs at about 9-15 centimeters near the femoral condyles or the knee joint. This type of fracture represents high-energy fracture associated with significant trauma for active young people and low-energy mechanism for the elderly.
• Distal tibial fracture. The tibia or shinbone is the second largest bone of the skeleton wherein the femur is the largest. It is attached to fibula and connected to the knee joint. These types of fractures are also near the knee joint and the fracture can occur due to direct blow to the shin or trauma from falling from heights.
There is left or right radius fracture and distal ulnar fracture.
Distal fractures can have two kinds of manifestations in the form of closed or open fractures. The physician will conduct a thorough examination to check any injury that can be associated with your fracture. He will also feel the site of the injury and check for deformity, bleeding, bone protrusion, and swelling. X-rays will be part of the diagnosis. When there is the possibility that nerves, tendons and ligaments are damaged in the process of fracture, CT scan and an MRI may also be included with the diagnosis. The physician can specifically point what bone is damaged and what other injuries were sustained based from the results of these imaging machines. Rehabilitation or rehab is essential.
Because distal fractures occur usually in the long bones, most of their causes come from trauma, direct or indirect blows, vehicular accidents, falls or pathological diseases such as cancerous bone metastasis, Paget disease, and bone cysts. Bone degenerating conditions can also cause distal fractures so even with low-energy impact the bones can fracture at an instant. Stress fractures can also cause distal fractures because although stress fractures are small cracks on the bone they can develop into bigger fractures when too much pressure is applied on the bone.
Distal Fracture Symptoms
Symptoms of distal fractures always include the following:
• Swelling of the injured area
• Bruising and discoloration of the skin
• Deformity of the broken limb
• Open wounds and bone protrusion for open fractures
• Numbness or feeling sensation that indicate bone fracture and nerve damage
• Immobility of the broken limb
• Tenderness of the skin around the injury
Distal Fractures Treatment
The treatments for distal fractures differ with the severity of the fracture. There could be the non-surgical treatment that uses traction to reposition the immobilized bone and casting the fracture with plaster. X-rays will further tell when the cast can be removed and then the treatment will be followed by muscle strengthening exercises to bring back the mobility of the injured part.
Surgical treatment will be unavoidable for bones that are out of their places and cannot be corrected with the use of the cast. This is called the open reduction. The incision is made right into the skin and into the broken bones. The bones are located and will be reattached with the use metal pins, screws or plates. An external fixator, which is a device that is connected to the metals on the bones remains outside the skin to immobilize the bone. This will be removed after the bones have healed.
Distal Fracture Recovery Time, Healing Time: 8 or more weeks may be needed.
Prevention of Distal Bone Injury
It is always recommended that anyone who participates in any adventurous activities should wear protection on his body. There is the helmet to protect the skull, the elbow pads, knee pads, shin pads, and body pads just to make sure the body cannot absorb the impact once an accident happen. Still, the most important thing to remember is ensuring that your environment is always safe for you. Just think twice before doing anything risky and tidy up your places to prevent tripping and falling. Teach children about safety and always supervise them carefully.
When to Call a Doctor
A distal fracture can be serious or not so serious depending on the impact of the object or the body to an object, which can injure the bone. If there is an open fracture, consider this as an emergency case. Even when there is the slightest indication that there is a distal bone fracture in any of the bones, call medical assistance immediately especially if the person cannot stand or walk.