Bone Fractures and Dislocations


Sometimes it’s obvious that you’ve broken a bone or dislocated a joint. In other cases, the warning signs are less clear. You may only have pain, swelling and bruising.

Anytime a bone breaks or pops out of place, you should see a doctor right away. Without prompt treatment, your injury may not heal properly. This puts you at risk for more serious fractures or dislocations in the future.

Understanding Fractures

A fracture is the medical term for a broken bone. Fractures can be mild or severe, depending on how much force was applied to the bone. They include:

  • Stress fractures, tiny cracks that develop in your bone over time.
  • Closed fractures occur when your bone cracks or breaks without penetrating the skin. The broken ends of the bones may line up neatly like two puzzle pieces or may be displaced (not aligned).
  • Open or compound fractures refer to broken bones that break through your skin. These are considered to be emergencies and typically require surgical treatment.
  • Comminuted fractures occur when your bone breaks into several pieces.

Fractures are usually caused by:

  • Trauma
  • Osteoporosis and other conditions that weaken the bones
  • Overuse of a certain joint, especially during exercise. Repetitive motion such as running or swinging a tennis racket can place extra stress on your bones.

Understanding Dislocations

A dislocation is a serious injury that occurs when one of the bones that make up a joint is forced out of position. This means the joint can no longer move. It may look swollen and deformed. These require prompt medical evaluation.

Dislocations often occur in the shoulders, elbows, fingers, hips, knees and ankles. They are usually caused by a traumatic event such as a fall, car accident or sports injury.

Treatment for Fractures and Dislocations at Mercy

We understand that a fracture or dislocation can be a frightening experience. We’ll care for you and help you feel calm and comfortable.

Your treatment plan will depend on several factors, including the type and severity of your injury. It may include:

  • Manually moving a dislocated bone back into the joint
  • A sling or splint to immobilize a dislocated joint
  • A cast or brace to stabilize a broken bone while it heals
  • Surgery to reposition and stabilize broken bones, or to repair torn ligaments after a dislocation
  • Orthopedic rehabilitation to regain muscle strength or joint range of motion once you’ve healed

Whether you receive care at a Mercy urgent care, emergency room or from one of our orthopedic specialists, you’ll leave with a road map for recovery – and peace of mind. We’ll work with you until your injured bone or joint feels good as new.

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