I’ve heard people say that a fracture is one of the most painful conditions one can ever experience. I’ve never really experienced a fracture (nor do I wish to experience one) but I have experienced a patella subluxation and if there is a worse pain than that then I would rather go by other peoples experiences.
Unfortunately, just like humans get fractures so do animals and the intensity of the pain is no less. Trauma is the most common cause of fractures in animals and usually involves falling from a height or being hit by cars. More people are moving into apartments with their pets and this further increases the chance of falling and getting a fracture.Fractures should always be treated like an emergency and the animal taken to the vet immediately. Pain management is usually the first line of treatment given to the animal once the fracture has been confirmed. Remember that a series of X-rays are required to make a confirmatory diagnosis and even in aiding the correctional surgery.
Fractures can be classified according to;
- Open or closed fractures
- Fracture location
- Direction of fracture lines
- Number and position of fracture lines
- Extent of bone damage
- Forces acting on the fracture
- Degree of soft tissue damage
- Age of the fracture
The main clinical sign of a fracture is lameness. Other important signs noticeable on the animal are swellings, pain or localized tenderness and crepitation on manipulation of the fracture site. There are two main forms of correcting fractures, one is through closed reduction where the fracture is aligned without surgically exposing the fractured bones e.g. application of casts. The other method is called open reduction technique which involves surgical correction of the fracture fragments with the use of bone implants.
Once an animal has undergone orthopedic surgery, close monitoring by the owner is key to a good recovery. The owner should restrict the animal’s movement to allow a fast recovery. Inspecting the bandage and surgical site daily for any infection as well as giving medication for pain or antibiotics if any. Remember that whenever a cast is used, the animal should not come into contact with water as it may sip in and cause necrosis (death) of the tissues which can lead to amputation. I have seen very good recovery from animals that had fracture reduction procedures perfomed on them.