While most bones heal after fractures without any complications, some bones fail to heal, which is known medically as non-union. When a bone fails to heal properly, the injury site often hurts long after the expected recovery period, for months or even years, which signals that healing may not be complete and a non-union may be present.
Risk Factors for non-union
Numerous factors can increase the risk of non-union including:
- Lack of bone stability
- Reduced blood flow to the fracture site
- Severe trauma to the fractured bone and surrounding tissues
- Older age
- Use of tobacco or other nicotine products, as they inhibit bone healing
- Anti-inflammatory medications and some other drugs
Preventing non-union after a fracture
Diet is extremely important to preventing non-union of fractures, because the bones need nutrients in order to heal. Essential nutrients for bone healing include protein, Vitamins C and D, and calcium, which are best taken through food, as additional supplementation is thought ineffective in most cases. However, a doctor can recommend proper preventative guidelines given a patient’s specific case.
Unfortunately, some bones just do not heal despite proper treatment.
To diagnose a non-union, a doctor will use the most appropriate imaging study, which may be an x-ray, CT scan, or MRI, depending on the affected bones. If these studies find a gap at the fracture site and/or no progress or inadequate healing of the fractured bone(s), they may diagnose a non-union of the fracture and recommend further treatment.
If the cause of non-union is unclear, a doctor may perform blood tests to determine is infection, anemia, diabetes, or other illnesses are present and delaying bone healing.
Treatment for non-unions
Both nonsurgical and surgical treatments for non-unions exist, which have benefits and drawbacks to be considered by the patient and their healthcare provider. Surgery is often chosen when the non-surgical methods fail or are unlikely to produce the desired result.
With this non-union bone treatment, an external bone stimulator devise is applied to the skin over the affected bone anywhere from 20 minutes to many hours each day, which is necessary for this treatment’s effectiveness.The bone stimulator works by delivering ultrasonic or pulsed electromagnetic waves that stimulate healing.
Surgical options include bone graft or bone graft substitute, internal fixation, and/or external fixation. These may be necessary options to consider after non-surgical methods have failed. A patient may also require a second surgery if the first surgery failed.
If you have suffered from a non-healing bone and believe it was caused by the medical malpractice of your doctor, the first step in protecting your legal rights is to seek the qualified counsel of an experienced attorney. Our qualified attorneys servicing New York and New Jersey can sit down with you to discuss your questions and concerns and determine your best course of action. Please contact us today– you do not have to suffer in vain.