Improperly Healed Broken Bones

A malunion fracture is a condition that occurs when the ends of a broken bone do not line up properly as the bone heals. The condition can cause a bone that is twisted, rotated or bent. It may change the length and make the bone shorter than normal. If left untreated, malunion fractures can cause joint instability, arthritis and loss of function.

Malunion fractures happen more often in severe breaks than in minor fractures. They can result when the fractured bone does not get enough oxygen or nutrients to promote healing. Insufficient stability during healing can also lead to malunion fractures.

Symptoms, Diagnosis and Outlook

Malunion fractures can occur in any broken bone. Symptoms tend to begin after the bone’s initial healing and vary depending on the affected bone and severity of the malunion.

Common symptoms include:

  • Pain, discomfort and bone tenderness
  • Swelling and tenderness in the affected area
  • Visible deformity like twisted, bent or shortened bone
  • Difficulty bearing weight
  • Decreased function
  • Inability to flex the affected joint

To diagnose a malunion fracture, the orthopaedic specialists at Penn State Health conduct a thorough physical examination and review your medical history. Additional testing may include:

  • X-rays
  • Computed tomography (CT) scan
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan
  • Range of motion and symmetry assessment

With proper treatment, many malunion fractures are able to heal correctly. Depending on the location and severity of the break, you may require physical therapy to regain muscle strength, range of motion and function.

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Why Choose Penn State Health for Care

Top-Ranked by U.S. News & World Report

Penn State Health includes the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, ranked as one of the best orthopaedic providers in the country by U.S. News & World Report. This honor was earned because our doctors consistently deliver exceptional patient care and outcomes through advanced treatments, translational research and provider training.

Innovative Care for Complex Challenges

Penn State Health offers innovative, leading-edge care for complex conditions like malunion fractures. Our team of experts uses a collaborative approach to offer a wide range of care that includes orthopaedics, chronic pain management and therapy services to improve your body’s function and movement.

We specialize in the treatment and management of the most difficult fractures, limb salvage and restoration of function following orthopaedic trauma. We are a regional resource for complex orthopaedic trauma reconstruction cases.

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