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Orthopedic trauma

Coordinated healing for musculoskeletal injuries (broken/fractured bones)

Sustaining any injury can significantly impact your overall health and your ability to work, walk and move. The Allina Health Orthopedics Trauma Program makes getting expert, dedicated trauma treatment more accessible than ever before – so you can benefit from better outcomes, often at lower costs. Our fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeons and caregivers combine the latest technologies with a deep commitment to compassionate, individualized care. Your team coordinates with Allina Health colleagues in other medical fields to address not only your injury, but your overall physical and mental wellness.

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What is orthopedic trauma?

Trauma is the medical term for injuries caused by an external force. Common causes of trauma injuries are falls, accidents, assaults, car crashes and sports injuries. These incidents damage bones, joints, cartilage, muscles, ligaments, and other structures within the body. 

Good for treating

Orthopedic trauma injuries can happen to any part of the body. Common injuries include:

  • Broken bones (fractures)
    • Upper & lower extremity
  • Joint injuries
    • Shoulder, elbow, wrist
    • Hip, knee, ankle, foot
  • Pelvic & hip socket (acetabular) fractures
  • Non-healing bones (nonunions)
  • Crooked or poorly healed bones (malunions)
  • Bone/joint infections (Osteomyelitis)

What to expect

Traumatic injuries may require a combination of surgical and non-surgical treatments. Your care team will collaborate with you to select the best treatment that meets your individual needs.

Non-surgical treatments

  • Cast or splint. Immobilization with a plaster or fiberglass cast minimizes movement and holds the bones and joints in place as they heal.
  • Therapy. Many injuries benefit from early therapy, range of motion, and therapist-directed exercises to prevent stiffness and enhance recovery. Your provider can work with you to find a physical therapy or occupational therapy clinic.
  • Medication. Your provider may prescribe medications to ease pain, reduce swelling and promote healing.

Surgical treatments

You and your orthopedic trauma team will discuss if surgery is your best option. You will hear an explanation about the procedure, the benefits of surgery compared to non-operative management, other alternatives, and your a roadmap to recovery.

  • Outpatient or Inpatient. Depending on your injury and necessary surgery, you may have the option for same-day surgery or an overnight stay in the hospital.
  • Internal Fixation. During this operation, a surgeon places internal pins, plates, screws, rods (intramedullary nails) to align and hold in place the broken (fractured) bones and joint structures. If necessary, the surgeon may recommend a joint replacement.
  • External Fixation. A surgeon places metal pins and bars outside of the body to temporarily hold the fractured bone straight. The pins are connected to a metal bar outside the skin, and this bar stabilizes the bones as they heal.
  • Other surgeries. Depending on the nature and severity of the trauma, your orthopedic trauma team may help improve your care by including other specialties at Allina Health, which could include general surgeons, neurosurgeons, vascular surgeons and plastic surgeons.

Rehabilitation and therapy

Whether your treatment includes surgery or not, your orthopedic trauma care team will recommend a rehabilitation plan to help you heal and recover. This may include physical therapy, occupational therapy, orthotic bracing, range of motion, strengthening exercises or other methods to support your return to function. Our ultimate goal is restoring your quality of life back to what it was before your injury.

Reviewed by: Erik Lund, MD, orthopedic trauma surgeon

First published: 3/4/2021
Last reviewed: 3/4/2021