Orthopedic Fracture & Trauma Care
Fractures and other orthopedic injuries can occur with a sudden fall or traumatic event like a motor vehicle accident. Though patients need immediate emergency care to attend to these injuries, followup care is also needed to ensure proper healing.
Augusta Orthopedic & Sports Medicine Specialists can cover both your emergency medical care needs with 24/7 trauma coverage, as well as any ongoing care services you need. Our orthopedic trauma specialist, Dr. David Gallagher, has over 12 years of experience in private practice with treating orthopedic injuries and sees patients for traumatic injuries on a daily basis. Over the course of his career, Dr. Gallagher worked with a regional trauma specialist, participated in multiple cadaver and didactic labs, and during one of their transition periods, he assisted the Medical College of Georgia in treating trauma patients and educating residents. He is currently the Director of Orthopedic Trauma at Doctor’s Hospital, a Level II Trauma Center.
Common Fractures and Traumatic Injuries
Fractures typically occur after a sudden fall, direct blow, or collision. Car and motorcycle accidents are also a common cause of more severe fractures and traumatic injuries. Medical conditions like osteoporosis can weaken the bones, making a patient more susceptible to fractures with even minor falls and accidents.
Dr. Gallagher treats fractures and orthopedic trauma throughout the body, but common injuries include:
- Hip fractures (particularly in elderly patients)
- Ankle fractures
- Wrist fractures
- Traumatic injuries from motor vehicle accidents, motorcycle accidents, falls from heights, and gunshot wounds
Treating Fractures and Traumatic Injuries
In the event of a fracture or traumatic injury, you should seek emergency medical care. Our practice offers 24/7 on-call emergency care for traumatic injuries and can have a specialist available for treatment.
Treatment options for fractures and traumatic injuries will ultimately depend on the severity of the injury and the overall health of the patient. Some fractures can be treated without surgery, while more severe fractures will often require surgery. Below are some of the treatment options available for fractures and traumatic injuries.
If the bones have not fractured into multiple, smaller pieces, and the fracture is stable enough, Dr. Gallagher may be able to apply a cast to hold the bones in place while they heal. This is common for more simple fractures of the wrist or ankle. Casts are worn for approximately 6-8 weeks.
If the bones are displaced, Dr. Gallagher will need to realign them before applying the cast. This realignment process is known as a “reduction.” Less severe fractures can often be moved back into place without surgery. This is called a closed reduction.
In more severe cases, surgery may be needed to put the broken bone fragments back into place. After surgery, a cast may be applied to help hold the bones in place while they heal.
When a fracture requires surgery, fixation devices may be needed to keep the bones in the correct position so that they heal properly. Fixation devices are typically needed for pelvic fractures, as well as any fractures with multiple small bone fragments. During surgery, Dr. Gallagher will make an incision, realign the bones, and use one or a combination of the following fixation devices to keep the bones in place:
- Metal pins
- Plates, screws, and metal rods
- An external fixation device
External fixation devices are applied temporarily and typically only used in very severe cases when the bones need an additional support structure to heal properly. After the external fixation devices are removed, pins, plates, and/or screws may be applied in a second procedure.
If an older patient has a hip fracture, sometimes a joint replacement is the best course of action to stabilize the hip. Depending on the damage to the hip, this may involve replacing just the ball-shaped head of the femur (this is called a hemiarthroplasty), or doing a total hip replacement.
Recovering from Fractures and Traumatic Injuries
Recovery times can vary based on the type of fracture and severity of the injury. More simple fractures like wrist and ankle fractures often heal within 6-8 weeks. More complex fractures like hip or pelvic fractures can take as long as 3 months to completely heal.
To ensure that your fracture heals properly, it is critical to follow instructions given to you when leaving the hospital or office. Dr. Gallagher provides written instructions to his patients so that they will know what to do, and encourages open discussion to answer any questions that you may have. Our office will also set followup appointments with Dr. Gallagher.
If you are a smoker, Dr. Gallagher will strongly advise you to quit. Smoking is one of the most harmful factors in fracture and wound healing, and continuing to smoke could severely affect your healing process.
After the fracture heals, patients may need to overcome stiffness or weakness in the affected limb. Dr. Gallagher routinely refers patients to physical therapy to regain strength and function in the limb more quickly so that patients can return to their normal activities.
Fracture and Trauma Care in Augusta, GA
Augusta Orthopedic & Sports Medicine Specialists offers 24/7 fracture and trauma care to assist with your emergency care needs. Our fracture and trauma specialist, Dr. David Gallagher, is also available to help with your followup and continued care needs after a fracture or traumatic injury. To learn more about how we can help with your emergency care needs, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Gallagher, please call our office at 706-863-9797. To schedule your followup visits, you may also use our online appointment request form. If urgent care is needed, please call our office or visit the nearest emergency care center.