In A Time Of Coronavirus, What To Do If You Think You Broke A Bone Or Suffered An Orthopedic Injury

04-07-2020

The coronavirus COVID-19 has drastically changed the way local health systems currently operate. But falls, mishaps and orthopedic injuries don’t take a vacation just because we’re quarantining at home.

Many patients are asking when it’s time to go the hospital emergency room or a doctor’s office. If you have fallen off a ladder at home or perhaps have broken a bone or have an infection, by all means go to the nearest urgent care center or hospital ER to triage your injury. Timeliness is an important part of the treatment for those types of injuries and should be taken care of as soon as possible.

If your orthopedic injury is less serious – such as a knee sprain or back pain -- it’s best to call your doctor first. Many local orthopedic physicians are still working, albeit perhaps shorter hours, and some are seeing select patients. Moreover, you may connect with your doctor via skype or video conference from your smart phone. We can examine and talk to you about your injury via phone and help determine if your injury is serious enough to warrant an in-person visit to your doctor. Patients are finding it easy to do and are very satisfied with the results. Some doctor’s offices are open for select patients; be sure to call before you go.

We have postponed most elective orthopedic surgeries at this time to accommodate the needs of more urgent cases and COVID-19 resources for staff. Some procedures of an urgent matter are still being performed at selected hospitals and at local outpatient surgery centers. We will resume doing orthopedic surgery for elective cases as soon as it is safe for our community.

We are encouraging all our patients to remain active at home. Mobility is life. Head to the garden or just walk around the block to keep your body moving and active. Just make sure to be cognizant of social distancing guidelines.

If you do suffer from an orthopedic mishap at home, there are a few self-help measures you can do until you connect with your doctor:

Think RICE:

  1. Rest your body and the area that is injured.
  2. Ice the area to reduce swelling.
  3. Compress the area with a brace, sleeve or bandages.
  4. Elevate the affected area above your heart to aid in circulation and reduce pain and swelling (use a pillow).

If you are unsure if your orthopedic injury is serious, call your doctor.

(Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Alan Beyer is Executive Medical Director of Hoag Orthopedic Institute in Irvine and host of “Doctor in the Dugout” heard on KLAA radio at noon each Saturday.)

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