What Is a Nonunion Bone Fracture?

A bone fracture can occur in many different ways. You can suffer a broken bone in a motor vehicle accident, a work mishap, or even simply slipping and falling. Normally, a cast or other stabilizing device will be wrapped around the break for a few weeks, and your bone will repair itself for you to be good as new. Sometimes, though, you can develop a nonunion, which is a frustrating and painful complication.

When bones break, they repair themselves in several different steps. First, the ends of the broken bone die, leaving only fresh, healthy bones in their places. Next, the ends of the fracture release signaling molecules to begin the healing process. They form a callus made of tough proteins such as collagen, which is later replaced by a special form of cartilage. This cartilage eventually develops into a tough bridge spanning the break. After, a bone callus replaces the cartilage, but it is not the final stage of bone. This softer bone callus is then replaced by hard bone that is gradually shaped and strengthened into the bone’s final, healed state.

Sometimes, however, bones are unable to repair themselves. If your fracture fails to heal after several months, you may have a nonunion fracture. This is a complication that can arise if the ends of your fracture are too far apart or if there is tissue caught between the bones-the bone ends are unable to signal to each other to heal together. A nonunion fracture can also arise if the break is improperly stabilized or if the cast is removed too soon. Nonunions are especially prevalent with severe fractures or breaks where a single bone is shattered into many pieces.

In most cases, nonunion fractures require surgery to correct. Doctors may choose to pin, screw, or plate the ends of the bone together so that they can eventually join. The surgical implants also provide strength and internal immobilization at the site of the injury to increase your chance of healing. Sometimes, you may require a bone graft to give fresh, healthy bone to the site so that it can stimulate the healing process.

Frustratingly, because broken bones are usually a relatively simple injury, they can be overlooked in personal injury cases. However, if your broken bone is the result of another person or party’s negligence, they may be obligated to cover your medical bills associated with the treatment of your fracture or nonunion break. To learn more about your legal options, contact a Milwaukee broken bones attorney from Habush Habush & Rottier, S.C., today.