When bones fracture, the body produces new bone tissue to fuse the fragments together and heal the break. However, with any fracture, there is a risk of the bone failing to heal, becoming what is called a nonunion fracture.
A nonunion is more common in fractures of the shoulder, shin, and foot, but can occur in any bone. Also, a nonunion may only be a delayed union, where the fracture has still not healed for up to six months after the break or the bone did not heal completely straight.
Symptoms of Nonunion
Common symptoms of a nonunion fracture include pain, swelling, tenderness, deformity, and the inability to bear weight despite sufficient time since the break. There is a timeframe for fracture healing, and patients with a nonunion may continue to experience symptoms after several weeks. Your doctors may order an X-ray, MRI, or CT scan to diagnose a nonunion.
What Causes Nonunion?
Fracture treatment usually involves keeping the bone in alignment and giving it time to heal, in a process called setting the bone. However, with a nonhealing fracture, the bone ends may have become disconnected from blood vessels, which provide the oxygen and nutrients needed to grow heal properly. Without a blood supply, no new bone can form, and healing cannot take place
In addition to lack of access to an adequate blood supply, other causes of nonunion include a medical condition like diabetes or anemia, poor nutrition, or an infection.
How is Nonunion Treated?
Treating nonunion involves medical and surgical intervention. Your doctor will first identify the reason your fracture failed to heal, then develop a treatment plan to address the underlying cause of your nonunion. For example, an infection is a common cause of nonunion and is typically addressed with appropriate medication.
A noninvasive technique for treating nonunion fractures involves the use of a bone stimulator, which is a device that delivers electromagnetic waves to the bone to stimulate healing. If this fails, your doctor may recommend surgery. During surgery, your surgeon will clean up the fracture site, then surgically implant a bone graft that will allow bone and soft tissue to grow around the fracture site.
Orthopedic Doctor in Clinton Township
The orthopedic providers at Movement Orthopedics are highly experienced in treating simple, complex, compound, and nonhealing fractures. We treat patients of all ages and make available everything a patient may need – diagnosing, treatment, and rehabilitation – in one place.
If you suspect you may have fractured a bone, make sure you get the proper treatment from a professional. Our orthopedic urgent care center is accepting patients with orthopedic injuries in our Clinton Township office. If you have questions or would like to make an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon, call (586) 436-3785 or use our convenient online request form.