Infections after Fractures

By Matt Lalande in Pedeatric Injuries on October 09, 2020

Infections after Fractures

Fractures and broken bones can recover properly with the right care and treatment; however, in some circumstances, infections after fractures can be a potentially dangerous condition. An open fracture after a car accident or other traumatic incident must be treated immediately. The longer the injury remains untreated, the more susceptible it will become to infection, which can cause long-lasting and painful consequences.  Learn more about infections after fractures and recognize the signs that your injury may be infected.  Any infections should be treated immediately in order to prolong the damage to your body and to ensure your recovery process goes as smoothly as possible.

How Does a Fracture Become Infected?

Many infections occur as a result of open fractures, also known as compound fractures, which are caused by acute trauma.  An open fracture is an injury where the fractured bone is exposed to the external environment via a traumatic tearing of soft tissues and skin. An infection after a fracture occurs when the fracture segments  become contaminated from the environment through skin and adjacent soft tissues. In other words, bacteria enters the body through damaged or punctured skin. Approximately 30% of open fractures become infected at some point and to some extent during the recovery process. If an individual has a pre-existing health condition that makes them susceptible to bacterial infection, such as rheumatoid arthritis or HIV, they are at higher risk of a fracture becoming infected during the healing process.

Fracture infections can have serious consequences that could potentially become fatal if they are not treated properly. They can delay the recovery process, cause long-term conditions and chronic pain, or prevent the injury from healing entirely. It is for this reason that any open skin punctures should always be treated with antibacterial solution, even if it is just a scrape.

Infection after a fracture can also happen during or after surgery.  Post-surgical infections  can lead to poor bone healing, non-union, and loss of function. Many orthopedic surgeons would probably tell you that the management of infections that arise in the early postoperative period after treatment of a fracture with open reduction and internal fixation (ORIF) or after prosthetic joint replacement, is an ongoing issue – and perhaps even a dreaded ongoing issue.

One thing is for certain – it is in fact widely accepted among orthopedic surgeons that deep infections are not easy to cure due to the presence of hardware – however, removing the surgical hardware in the presence of an unhealed fracture can no doubt complicated the medical management of both the infection and the fracture. Many orthopedic surgeons would agree that the standard treatment for an acute infection after ORIF is to reduce the bacterial with irrigation and débridement and then to suppress the infection with antibiotics until the fracture heals instead of removing the hardware.  Post-surgical antibiotics are often administered via IV.*

Symptoms of Infected Fractures

If you are recovering from a serious fracture after an accident, it is important to keep an eye out for the symptoms that your fracture is becoming infected.  Symptoms can include:

-Increased pain around the impacted area
-Redness or red spots
-Pus pockets that form in the surrounding area that drain frequently
-Swelling or warmness in the area
-Fever symptoms such as high temperature, night sweats, or chills
-Fatigue or exhaustion

How Are Infected Fractures Treated?

Infected fractures can be treated, but they must be treated immediately. As soon as you notice an infected fracture, you must go to the emergency room. Once there, you will likely be given antibiotics to help reduce the infection, and it is possible you will require surgery to clean out the infection.

In some cases, antibiotics alone can treat the infection, but in more severe cases, one or more surgical procedures will be required to remove and analyze the infection. If the infection has reached bone, you will likely be facing long-term use of antibiotics and multiple surgeries to prevent further structural damage.

Your chances of recovering from an infected fracture are high, as long as you take immediate action and follow your doctor’s recommendations. Infections after fractures can often delay the recovery process and cause prolonged complications, but it’s not impossible to overcome.

If You’ve Suffered a Dangerous Fracture Due to Someone’s Negligence, You Have Options

Our law firm has been representing victims who have suffered life changing injuries and disability claimants since 2003 If someone’s negligence has caused you life-changing pain and suffering, you have every right to seek fair compensation to alleviate the financial burden you have been left with.   Book a free, no-obligation consultation to speak to us at no charge and go over the options available to you. If you are too unwell to travel, we will happily come to you at your convenience, and give you our utmost dedication and empathy. There is no harm in seeing what options you have. Call us today nationwide at 1-844-LALANDE or local at 905-333-8888 for your free consultation today.


*Thank you to the assistance of the peer reviewed articles in the “Journal of Orthopedic Surgery”.




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