Orthopedic emergencies are those conditions that should be seen by a physician the same day the injury occurs, to prevent potential harm to the patient. We will not be talking about major trauma with deep lacerations, loss of consciousness, and fractures that clearly demand an immediate visit to the hospital ER. Our focus will be on conditions that develop with little or no trauma and often happen inside the home.
What does a Orthopedist physicians do?
Orthopedist physicians are concerned with the skeleton and its associated structures. Orthopedists treat fractures, strained muscles, torn ligaments and tendons, and other injuries and deal with acquired and congenital skeletal deformities and the effects of degenerative diseases such as osteoarthritis. In the past these types of injuries depended on heavy braces and splints, now thanks to new acquired knowledge and techniques orthopedist use bone grafts, hip and other joint replacements, prostheses, special footwear, and braces to enhance mobility. Orthopedics also utilize techniques like; physical medicine and rehabilitation in addition to those of traditional medicine and surgery.
Unfortunately, the amount of one’s pain does not exactly imply or compare to the gravity of the condition. For the 1st example, lets say a person with low grade shoulder pain, slowly becomes almost incapacitating. This is most likely acute bursitis which, though very painful, is not dangerous. Now let look at this 2nd example, a person who feels fine one week after a total knee replacement then all of a sudden wakes up to discover that their clothes are soaked with blood and joint fluid. This is an would be an example of an injury that would be in the list of Orthopedic Emergencies because it could lead to a joint infection.
The Following Are Conditions Consider As Emergency Orthopedic Conditions.
Immediate Call To The Orthopedic Physician if are suffering from:
(note: list includes but is not limited to)
- Shortness of breath, chest pain, and cough occurring one to three weeks after total knee replacement, total hip replacement, or hip fracture surgery. This could mean a blood clot to the lungs (pulmonary embolus).
- Onset of calf pain and swelling a few days or weeks after injury or surgery on the lower extremity. This could be due to a blood clot in the deep veins of the leg which might become an embolus to the lung.
- A wound in a post operative patient that spontaneously starts to drain.
- Acute onset of a painful swollen joint accompanied by fever and chills. This could be due to a joint infection.
- Increasing pain, swelling, and numb fingers or toes in a patient with a solid cast. This could be cast compression syndrome.
- Acute severe back pain often accompanied by weakness in the legs and inability to empty one’s bladder after lumbar spine surgery or epidural spinal injection. This could be due to bleeding around the spinal cord.
- A child with a fracture, especially of the elbow, who has been treated for the fracture but remains uncomfortable and fussy despite medication. This could mean dangerous swelling at the fracture sight.
- Any child who is crying, fussy, feverish and refuses to walk, without a definite injury. This could indicate a hip joint infection.
- Any post operative patient who accidentally falls or twists the operative limb and then experiences a marked increase in pain. This could mean a change in the fixation of the fracture, a new fracture, or, in the case of a total hip replacement, dislocation of the hip joint.
- Any person with osteoporosis (usually a post menopausal woman) who has groin or thigh pain even after minor injury, followed by inability to walk. This could mean an insufficiency (osteoporotic) fracture of the hip.
This list is not inclusive of all orthopedic emergencies conditions it is merely a highlight of the most common injuries. There are many other serious and painful orthopedic conditions not included in this list that should be seen by the orthopedist as soon as possible.
Orthopedic Emergencies Include but are not limited to:
- Open Fractures or Joints
- Neurovascular Injuries
- Septic Joints