How likely are you to get hurt at work? The answer to that question includes many factors, such as whether the job involves physical activity and/or working with or around machines and equipment. The risk is far less for anyone who works at home or in an office on a computer.
Roughly 3 in 100 workers get hurt on the job, according to federal data. Any of the construction trades, such as carpentry, painting, drywall, or flooring, or working in a factory or warehouse place you at risk of an injury at work.
It’s good to be prepared if an accident does happen, if not to you then to someone else, so you know how to handle it before you reach the doctor.
You want to see the right expert if you or someone else has sustained or suspects a bone fracture. This type of injury requires an orthopedic surgeon. Board-certified spine and orthopedic surgeon Dr. Jocelyn Idema with Steel City Spine and Orthopedic Center treats many cases of broken bones.
So here’s another question: Would you know what to do if you think you’ve broken a bone while at work? Following are helpful guidelines.
Signs of a broken bone
If you have any of the following symptoms in the area of your injury after an accident at work, you may have broken a bone and need to seek medical help right away.
- Severe pain
- Bone at an abnormal angle
- Loss of mobility
In addition to these symptoms that cluster around the injury, you may feel faint, dizzy, chilly, or nauseous.
Before getting to the doctor’s office
Following is first-aid treatment for a broken bone:
Stop the bleeding
If you’re bleeding, ask a colleague to apply pressure to the wound using a sterile pad or clean cloth or shirt.
Don’t move the injured area
Make a sling using a piece of clothing or a splint using whatever material is available. Your goal is to immobilize the injury until you see the doctor.
Use an ice pack
Wrap ice in a cloth and hold it in place off and on until you receive professional medical attention. Ask for a sweater, jacket, or blanket in case of shock.
Call for help
Call or ask a colleague to call Steel city Spine and Orthopedic Center so you can be seen. If the bone is visible and has pushed through the skin, or if you’ve sustained a head injury, call 911 and go to the emergency room.
Types of fractures
Dr. Idema examines your injury and takes X-rays and also reviews your medical history. She asks for details about how the accident happened, what hurts, where it hurts, and about your other symptoms.
She diagnoses your type of fracture. It may be a hairline fracture, meaning you have tears in your bone tissue. You could have a simple fracture, meaning a broken bone under the skin.
A compound fracture means your bone is sticking up through your skin. If you have a displaced fracture, your broken bone is misaligned. The most complicated fracture occurs when your bone breaks into several pieces.
Treatment for fractures
If you have a hairline fracture, you may need a sling or splint, and Dr. Idema recommends the RICE method (rest, ice, compression and elevation). Some simple fractures may be treated the same way, or you may be in a cast for a few weeks.
A displaced fracture can be treated manually. Dr. Idema physically manipulates the area and steers the bone back into place; the procedure is called a reduction. You wear a splint, sling, or cast afterward.
If your fracture is severe, Dr. Idema performs surgery. She places the bones in the correct position and uses pins, screws, and metal plates to hold the broken bones in position while they heal. Surgery for compound fractures is performed in the hospital.
Dr. Idema prescribes pain medication for temporary use while you heal. You likely need physical therapy to help you regain strength and range of motion.
Call Steel City Spine and Orthopedic Center or book an appointment online for expert care of bone fractures and all of your musculoskeletal needs. The practice has convenient offices in Pittsburgh, McKees Rocks, and Washington, Pennsylvania.
In addition, the Ortho ASAP Quick Care center is open Mondays and Tuesdays at the Pittsburgh location, and on Fridays at the Washington office. Walk-ins are welcome.